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Listen to Gary, one of our many success stories, describe his experience with us:

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It is often said that alcoholism’s symptoms vary from person to person, but the unfortunate truth is that many of the characteristics of an alcoholic can be passed on from person to person as well. Children suffer immensely when raised by an alcoholic, this is well noted, but many of us don’t know to what extent or in what ways. The truth is it’s hard to determine what characteristics are intrinsic to a child of an alcoholic, be they a minor or an adult, and which traits are directly caused or nurtured by alcoholism in a parent.

Isolation and victimization

A fear of people with authority and isolation from them is common in children of alcoholics, as well as a sense of inadequacy. Approval seeking behavior, combined with a tendency to feel victimized are also prevalent while a strong need to “save” people around them and love people they’d normally pitty also materialize quite often. Low-self esteem, as well as a need for excitement and acceptance, regardless of cost, are quite common as well, but above all else it appears alcoholism is a family disease like no other in shaping someone’s personality.

Patterns of Aggression & Abuse

The fear instilled in the children of alcoholics can often lead to them becoming the dreaded authority figures they resented so much during childhood, and cause others to recoil in shock or fear with frequent angry outbursts and scathing criticism. Manipulating others, and an almost magnetic ability to seek out those who can be manipulated comes with the territory and constant denial about pain from their pasts is all too common. The ugly reality is that children who grow up under the thumb of an alcoholic are often in great need of therapy, but also genuine love and concern, instead of what they received as kids.

The Bright Side

Like with alcoholism itself, the psychologically damaging effects of growing up with an alcoholic parent (or two) can be reversed, worked on, and a life can be improved. Finding out why someone is manipulating others, walling themselves off emotionally and denying all mentions of a problem is a task best left to a psychologist or psycho-therapist. The temptation to help someone who is so obviously suffering will be tough to overcome, and you can help them by getting them the professional help they need, but to try and contend with someone who grew up having to protect themselves so much and so often will be very difficult for someone who didn’t experience the same pain and confusion.