What is an “Adult Child”?

An adult child is someone who meets the demands of life with survival techniques learned as children. Without help, we unknowingly operate with ineffective thoughts and judgments that can sabotage our decisions and relationships.

Did you grow up with a problem drinker or in a dysfunctional family?   Not quite sure why you feel and behave the way you do? Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA) may be for you. 

Read the following and see if you can relate:

  • Do you constantly seek approval and affirmation?
  • Do you fail to recognize your accomplishments?
  • Do you fear criticism?
  • Do you overextend yourself?
  • Have you had problems with your own compulsive behavior?
  • Do you have a need for perfection?
  • Are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly, continually anticipating problems?
  • Do you feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?
  • Do you still feel responsible for others, as you did for the problem drinker in your life?
  • Do you care for others easily, yet find it difficult to care for yourself?
  • Do you isolate yourself from other people?
  • Do you respond with fear to authority figures and angry people?
  • Do you feel that individuals and society in general are taking advantage of you?
  • Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?
  • Do you confuse pity with love, as you did with the problem drinker?
  • Do you attract and/or seek people who tend to be compulsive and/or abusive?
  • Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone?
  • Do you often mistrust your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others?
  • Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?
  • Do you think someone’s drinking may have affected you?

If you have answered “Yes” to any of these questions, ACA might be for you.  We sometimes refer to ourselves as “adult children” or “an adult child”, because we tend to go through life with survival techniques we learned as children.  We’re essentially stuck in time.  Without some form of help, we unknowingly operate with old ineffective thoughts and judgments that can sabotage our decisions and relationships.  

Next Step attend an ACA meeting and learn more or Contact Us


What’s the difference between ACA and ACoA?

Both acronyms refer to Adult Children of Alcoholics / Dysfunctional Families. When we were in our infancy, the meetings on the East Coast and Midwest used ACoA and those on the West Coast used ACA. As the leadership of our organization gravitated to the West Coast, ACA became the more common acronym. Since Adult Children groups under the auspices of Al-Anon are referred to as ACoA in some areas of the country, we prefer to call ourselves ACA to maintain this distinction.