What Is ACOA?

The children of individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) often have lasting trauma that can affect them for decades if left untreated. The Family Place believes in the healing power of connection, and we are committed to provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals in recovery and their loved ones can get the help they need. The adult children of people with AUD can benefit from attending local group meetings for adult children of alcoholics (ACOA).

What Is ACOA?

Adult Children of Alcoholics 

The adult children of alcoholics have unique challenges, including: 

  • An increased risk of developing mental health disorders 
  • An increased risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Toxic family dynamics
  • Unsafe living environments 
  • Trauma and trauma responses 

Alcohol misuse is often accompanied by co-occurring conditions like mood disorders, anger management issues, and other conditions that can significantly impact children into adulthood.

Unfortunately, alcohol addiction can last a lifetime if left untreated, which means many ACOA grew up in an environment where they were surrounded by the devastating effects of AUD. Groups like ACOA and Ala-non provide support and resources to help families recover. If you are friends of someone affected by AUD, there are groups that can help you heal. Find out more by reading our Ala-non page. 

What to Expect From ACOC Meetings 

Generally, support meetings for ACOC include socializing, introductions, educational readings or speakers, and guided discussion. Although newcomers are encouraged to introduce themselves and discuss their experiences, no one is required to talk during a meeting. You can listen to others and gain insight into how people have learned to cope with their own traumas related to being an adult with a loved one who is actively addicted or in recovery.

Some of the things you can expect from ACOA meetings include: 

  • An introduction period for newcomers 
  • Group announcements
  • Some meetings have a designated speaker 
  • A guided discussion between meeting participants 
  • Reading and sharing relevant literature
  • Closing announcements and reminders 
  • Optional socializing periods before and after each meeting

Although most meetings follow a standardized 12-Step format, some groups might have slightly different approaches. You can learn more about how your local group operates by reaching out to their host or group leaders before attending any meetings. If you have a loved one in treatment at The Family Place, their case manager can provide you with contact details and information about local ACOA meetings. Learn more by visiting our Aftercare With Family page. 

Historical Trauma and Alcohol Use Disorder

Historical trauma has significantly impacted minority communities around the country. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Historical trauma is the cumulative, multigenerational, collective experience of emotional and psychological injury in communities and in descendants.” ACOA provides a safe space where people can share the realities of addiction and how they may have been affected by multigenerational trauma and substance misuse.

Individuals with family members who misuse alcohol have a higher risk of developing the following: 

  • Substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Mental health disorders 
  • Stress-related health issues like heart disease 
  • Financial strain 
  • Legal problems 
  • Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships 

Visit our Aftercare With Family page to learn more about how The Family Place supports families and communities affected by substance misuse. 

The Benefits of Peer Support 

Adults who have parents actively struggling with alcohol misuse benefit from peer support. According to the International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, “The factors intertwined with alcoholism are highly complex,” and it is essential for ACOA “who [are] dealing with adjustment issues to see the possibilities of change and move toward that change.” Connecting with others who have similar experiences facilitates positive changes by doing the following: 

  • Increasing self-awareness and self-esteem 
  • Providing a framework for healing 
  • Ensuring each person feels heard and understood 
  • Encouraging positive self-expression
  • Individuals of faith can find additional spiritual support

Groups like ACOA prioritize self-care and personal growth by providing a safe space where you can work through the issues related to your parent’s AUD. Some people who attend ACOA have their own struggles with addiction.

Attending ACOA During Treatment and Aftercare 

Genetics and environmental factors both increase the risk of developing AUD. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for AUD.” Having a close family member with AUD increases the risk of developing SUD. If you struggle with addiction and are in treatment for AUD, you may benefit from attending a 12-Step support group like ACOA or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

Addressing the root cause of your maladaptive behaviors is a part of the holistic treatment programs we offer at The Family Place. Our clinical team will help you navigate recovery and guide you through healing from past traumas. Individual trauma-focused therapy and 12-Step groups are an essential part of that process. The ultimate goal is to give you the tools to overcome addiction and achieve long-term sobriety. 

The aftercare services we offer include: 

  • Information on local self-help groups 
  • Referrals to therapists and doctors’ offices 
  • Assistance in locating and contacting local community-based recovery advocacy organizations

At The Family Place, we prioritize healthy connections between clients and family members. Learn more by visiting Our Family Program page. 

Developing Healthy Family Dynamics 

Family therapy is another way we help parents and children recover from the devastating effects of addiction. Every family member is affected, and all should be given support, encouragement, and resources to heal. ACOA provides a space where you can benefit from the advice and knowledge of people who have lived through similar experiences. You can learn healthier family dynamics by seeing how others have found ways to move forward.

Everyone deserves to be supported and feel understood as they live with the daily effects of addiction. The Family Place helps parents and their children navigate the difficult journey to recovery by providing family-focused services and programs. To learn more, contact our office by calling us today at 1-800-501-7796.

There is hope and now is the time, Call today

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