Alcoholic Home Can Have Lifelong Effects on Children

A Scar Inside That Can't Be Covered

Crying Woman
An Alcoholic Home Can Leave Deep Scars. © Getty Images

Growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent can affect children so profoundly that they can suffer emotional and psychological repercussions for the rest of their lives. The experience can affect children's self-esteem, their attitudes, and their ability to form relationships.

Many of those raised in an alcoholic home feel lost and abandoned. Many are angry and filled with rage. Others exhibit symptoms of depression and, when they grow into adulthood, can display dysfunctional thinking and other characteristics that are shared by many others with similar backgrounds.

Below, a 16-year-old visitor to the Alcoholism / Substance Abuse site anonymously shares her feelings toward her father, a lifelong alcoholic:

It Takes Your Future Away

Growing up in an alcoholic home takes your future away.

My dad has been an alcoholic since he married my mother. Sometimes I think he did it on purpose, not that it matters anymore. I'm 16 now and he has hurt my family more than you could imagine. He's threatened to leave my family unsupported multiple times. There have been too many obligatory police visits at my home than I could describe in this word count.

He could be sober from this point forward and I wouldn't forgive him. He's not even my parent and truthfully he never has been. He's never been there for me nor does he know the first thing about me.

Life Revolves Around Alcohol

His life revolves around alcohol. And not just the few beers one enjoys at night. Vodka.

Rum. Bourbon. I've memorized the labels of the bottles he stashes away. He drinks from morning to evening and doesn't stop until he knows that continuing would make no difference on how he feels anymore.

His addiction leaves me no choice but to conclude that he doesn't care about me, that he has chosen his weakness over his own child.

It makes you feel abandoned despite whether or not your other parent is sober. It doesn't matter.

To have the person that created you, that gave you life, that was supposed to take care of you and be your hero, choose a life of addiction and utter selfishness, is something that forever hinders your optimistic view of the rest of your life.

A Scar That Can't Be Covered

Sure. It's possible to overcome this enough to go through school and get a job to sustain yourself, but if you are ever told to get over it, that it could be worse, or to let it be in the past, just know, that's crap.

Growing up with an alcoholic parent leaves a scar in you that can't be covered. It becomes a part of you. It's in your blood.

All alcoholics are different. Their habits affect their bodies differently, meaning that each home situation is different. You can have a friend that suffers from this also but the two of you will never really understand how each of you really feels. The truth of the matter? It sucks. A lot.

And no, there's nothing you can do about it.

No one on this earth is strong enough to overcome the traumatizing effects of alcoholism. Sometimes there's no advice to be given.

-- Star55

There Is Help Available

Having an alcoholic parent can have long-lasting effects on children in the household and they can continue to be affected long into adulthood, but there is help available for those willing to ask for it. Many have found recovery from the experience of growing up in a home with an alcoholic through support groups such as Adult Children of Alcoholics and Al-Anon Family Groups.

Others have found help through counseling and professional counseling.

If you are unsure if you have been affected by the experience, you may want to take the Adult Children of Alcoholics screening quiz or read the book Adult Children of Alcoholics to see if you can relate to similar situations.


Janet G. Woititz, "The 13 Characteristics of Adult Children," The Awareness Center. Accessed August 2015.

Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization, "The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic," (Attributed to Tony A., 1978). Accessed November 2010.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Helping Yourself Heal: A Recovering Woman's Guide to Coping with Childhood Abuse Issues" Updated 2008.

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