Children of Alcoholics: You are not alone.

Alcoholism affects everyone in the family, particularly children. If you grew up in an alcoholic family, you are not alone. You are also not immune to alcohol’s devastating effects.

February 13-19 is Children of Alcoholics (COA) Week. According to the website, COA Week “celebrates the recovery of the many thousands of children (of all ages) who have received the help they needed to recover from the pain and losses suffered in their childhood, and it offers hope to those still suffering from the adverse impact of parental alcohol and drug addiction through educational programs, proclamations by mayors and governors, poster contests in schools, and radio, television and print media.”

In honor of COA Week, here are some important facts from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA):

  1. Alcoholism affects the entire family.
  2. Many people report being exposed to alcoholism in their families.
  3. There is strong, scientific evidence that alcoholism tends to run in families. Children of alcoholics are more at risk for alcoholism and other drug abuse than children of non-alcoholics.
  4. Alcoholism usually has strong negative effects on marital relationships.
  5. Alcohol is associated with a substantial proportion of human violence, and perpetrators are often under the influence of alcohol.
  6. Based on clinical observations and preliminary research, a relationship between parental alcoholism and child abuse is indicated in a large proportion of child abuse cases.
  7. Children of alcoholics exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety more than children of non-alcoholics.
  8. Children of alcoholics experience greater physical and mental health problems and higher health care costs than children from non-alcoholic families.
  9. Children of alcoholics score lower on tests measuring verbal ability.
  10. Children of alcoholics often have difficulties in school.
  11. Children of alcoholics have greater difficulty with abstraction and conceptual reasoning.
  12. Children can be protected from many problems associated with growing up in an alcoholic family.
  13. Maternal alcohol consumption during any time of pregnancy can cause alcohol related birth defects or alcohol related neurological deficits.
  14. Children of alcoholics may benefit from adult efforts which help them to:
    • Develop autonomy and independence.
    • Develop a strong social orientation and social skills.
    • Engage in acts of “required helpfulness.”
    • Develop a close bond with a care-giver.
    • Cope successfully with emotionally hazardous experiences.
    • Perceive their experiences constructively, even if those experiences cause pain or suffering, and gain, early in life, other people’s positive attention.
    • Develop day-to-day coping strategies.

Read more about these facts and other resources on the NACoA website.

Support for Friends & Family Affected by Addiction in Maine:
Here in Maine, Crossroads for Women offers an ongoing therapy group specifically for friends and family members (men and women) that have loved ones struggling with drug and/or alcohol addiction. Signs of Alcoholism should be treated right after it is diagnosed. Groups are offered in Portland and Windham. Download a flyer with details (PDF) or call for more information: 207.773.9931 (Portland) or 207.894.5733 (Windham).