The A.C.O.A. (Adult Children Of Alcoholic) “Laundry List”
These are some characteristics we seem to have in common due to being
brought up in an alcoholic household.
a. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
b. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
c. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
d. We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another
compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick
e. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that
weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
f. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us
to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. This enables us not
to look too closely at our own faults.
g. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving
in to others.
h. We become addicted to excitement.
i. We confuse love with pity and tend to “love” people who we can “pity”
j. We have stuffed our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost
the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much
k. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
l. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will
do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience
painful abandonment feelings which we received from living with sick
people who were never there emotionally for us.
m. Alcoholism is a family disease and we became para-alcoholics and took on
the characteristics of the disease even though we did not pick up the
n. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.
(Adapted version) Tony A., 1977
Reprinted from WSO Newcomer, Page 2, with
permission from Adult Children of Alcoholics,
World Service Organization, P.O. Box 3216,
Torrance, CA 90510 310/ 534-1815.