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Balancing Your Life | Alcohol & Drugs

The Legacy of Alcoholism

AlcoholSomeone you know grew up with a problem drinker. One of every five college students is the adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA). Students who identify themselves as children of alcohol abusers report more problems due to their drinking than other students. These consequences include damaged interpersonal relationships, drinking to relax, and concern from others about their drinking habits.

Identifying the ACOA 
(Adult Child of an Alcoholic)

People who grow up with an alcoholic adult in the family often have certain personality characteristics. See how often the following statements reflect how you feel now or how you have felt as a child. These are typical statements for people who were raised with an alcoholic parent. They are also common to those reared by parents who don't drink much but who were themselves raised by an alcoholic.

  1. I'm usually involved in so many activities that I barely have time for myself.
  2. I fear criticism.
  3. It's important for me to always do the "right thing."
  4. I think one of my parents has a drinking problem.
  5. If I don't give in to my friends, I feel guilty.
  6. I have a need for perfection.
  7. It's difficult for me to feel close to others.
  8. My parents fight when one of them drinks.
  9. I have lost sleep over my parent's drinking habits.
  10. I care for others but don't really know my own needs.
  11. I usually cannot express my own emotions.
  12. I'm a nice person but my friends/boy-or girlfriend complain/complains that I won't get close.
  13. I feel different from other people.
  14. I am afraid that alcohol use will cause my parents to divorce.
  15. I'm leaving home as soon as I'm old enough.
  16. It's my fault that my family has so many problems.
  17. People praise me for all my accomplishments, but I never think that I've done enough.
  18. I wish my home could be more like those of my friends who do not have a parent with a drinking problem.
  19. I stay away from home because my parent drinks.
  20. I take care of others, but no one takes care of me.
  21. People tell me I have a lot of potential but that I lack self-confidence.
  22. I have felt sick, cried, or had knots in my stomach after worrying about a parent's drinking.
  23. Others' approval is very important to me.

Score: A score of at least 4 to 6 positive responses indicates a strong identification with the typical characteristics of an ACOA. If you would like to discuss this further, support groups such as MTSU ACOA group or the local Al-Anon chapter are good sources of help.

(These questions are modified or adapted from the Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST), Jones: The Family Recovery Press, 1982; the Recovery COA Quiz and the Did You Grow Up With A Problem Drinker Quiz from Al-Anon, 1984.) 


Other Topics | Alcohol & Drugs | Depression | Eating Concerns | Healthy Thinking | Self Esteem | Self Evaluation/Assessment