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Welcome to Adult Children of
Alcoholics®/ Dysfunctional Families

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)/Dysfunctional Families is a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition program of men and women who grew up in dysfunctional homes.

We meet to share our experience of growing up in an environment where abuse, neglect and trauma infected us. This affects us today and influences how we deal with all aspects of our lives.

ACA provides a safe, nonjudgmental environment that allows us to grieve our childhoods and conduct an honest inventory of ourselves and our family—so we may (i) identify and heal core trauma, (ii) experience freedom from shame and abandonment, and (iii) become our own loving parents.

The 14 Traits of an Adult Child, also known as The Laundry List, are shown below.  If you identify with any of these Traits, you may find a home in our Program. We welcome you.

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. 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, etc.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”
  10. 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 (Denial).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. 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.
  13. Alcoholism* is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics** and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics** are reactors rather than actors.

Tony A., 1978

* While the Laundry List was originally created for those raised in families with alcohol abuse, over time our fellowship has become a program for those of us raised with all types of family dysfunction.
** Para-alcoholic was an early term used to describe those affected by an alcoholic’s behavior. The term evolved to co-alcoholic and codependent. Codependent people acquire certain traits in childhood that tend to cause them to focus on the wants and needs of others rather than their own. Since these traits became problematic in our adult lives, ACA feels that it is essential to examine where they came from and heal from our childhood trauma in order to become the person we were meant to be.

WELCOME TO ADULT CHILDREN OF
ALCOHOLICS®/ DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES

Never before in the history of Twelve Step programs has a fellowship brought together such a diverse group of recovering people that includes adult children of alcoholics, codependents, and addicts of various sorts. The program is Adult Children of Alcoholics. The term “adult child” is used to describe adults who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes and who exhibit identifiable traits that reveal past abuse or neglect. The group includes adults raised in homes without the presence of alcohol or drugs. These ACA members have the trademark presence of abuse, shame, and abandonment found in alcoholic homes.

Our 30 years of experience has shown that adult children who attend our meetings, work the Twelve Steps, and find a Higher Power experience astonishing improvement in body, mind, and spirit. Ours is one of the few Twelve Step fellowships that embraces the difficult task of trauma work, which can often lead to an exciting journey to the Inner Child or True Self. Along with sponsorship, we encourage informed counseling to help the adult child accomplish the greatest level of emotional healing from an abusive upbringing.

Excerpted from Fellowship Text pp. xii-xiii (2006).

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