Adult Children of Alcoholics and Trauma

by Melodee Arnold, RN, LMFT, CGP

Adult children of alcoholics are high achievers. However, they often reach their goals only to find that they are still unhappy.

There are many different degrees of alcoholism, resulting in varying degrees of trauma or neglect.  But even the most benign families missed out on coping skills.  Communicating, resolving conflict and intimacy cannot be learned in an environment where alcohol is used “to feel better.”

These skills can be learned and the severity of the trauma can be desensitized so that, although the memory is still there, the trigger link to intense emotion is not. The correct nurturing in an enlightened environment opens the door for further personal growth.

Family rules include:

  • Don’t ask questions
  • Don’t tell
  • We have a normal family
  • There is no elephant in the living room

The children don’t understand that their home is dysfunctional. It is not their fault. Many children really are trapped. There is no other place to go. However, the good news is that, as adults, they are no longer trapped. As an adult, one can use the phone, call 911, drive a car and ask for help. It is no longer necessary to be helpless about secrets or shame. Issues of control are pervasive. Control and survival are equated.

Adult Children of Alcoholics experience the following confusions:

  • interdependence vs. vulnerability and hurt
  • loving vs. need
  • anger vs. violence
  • spirituality vs. irrationality
  • Possible traumas growing up in this home include:
  • secrets
  • shame
  • neglect
  • emotional abuse
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse

Group and/or individual therapy can help assist adult children of alcoholics to develop the skills needed for healthy communication and positive self esteem.  These skills foster a rewarding life style. EMDR trauma therapy is one of many methods used. We go at your own pace.

You might also consider joining the 12 Step Program called Adult Children of Alcoholics.  For more info, link here

Melodee Arnold, RN, LMFT, CGP is the Director of the Adult Children of Alcoholics Treatment Program

Adult Children of Alcoholics, EMDR Therapy, co-dependence, enabling, ACA