Children of Alcoholics Feel They Are Different

Real Stories from Children of Alcoholics

Troubled Woman
Do You Sometimes Feel 'Different?'. © Getty Images

Some children who grow up in alcoholic homes have a tendency to feel that they are different from other people and are uncomfortable in social situations. Many have trouble making friends and build walls around themselves to keep others at a distance.

Although feeling different is one of several common characteristic of adult children of alcoholics, it is also a trait shared by others who grew up in homes with other emotional challenges.

Here at the Alcoholism site, we asked adult children of alcoholics to answer the question, "How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?" Here is what some of them said about feeling different from others:

Uncomfortable in Social Situations
Growing up in an alcoholic home left me "not knowing who I am." Looking in a mirror and it is blank. I do not know who I am. I feel extremely uncomfortable in social situations and do not have many friends. -- S.S.D.

Always Felt Different
We rarely had people over in the house besides relatives or if it was a birthday or another special occasion. I could never just bring someone home. I always felt different from everyone else and still do. -- J.W.

Difficult to Make Friends
I've always felt different and alone. I've always found it difficult to make friends. I am a perfectionist and the slightest hint of criticism makes me crumble. -- Cat

Anxious and Terrified
I was anxious, felt different, was terrified of failure, felt I had to be and do more than others to be halfway good enough, and my self esteem was in the toilet. -- Dog Lover

Different and Detached
Growing up with a violent, drinking dad has made me distrustful, ineffective in relationships, feeling different, detached, depressed and unfocused in my life. And even today it rears its ugly head from time to time. -- Donna

Deep Insecurities
I have had no choice but to wall her life out of my life, and build a family and life that is without chaos as much as possible. But I have deep insecurities, a very low self-esteem, and anger that I have to deal with every day. -- Sandy

Creating Chaos and Complications
I have a penchant for the unusual and am drawn to excitement or can create chaos and complications in my life. I tend not to be satisfied with serenity. -- Poet

Do You Feel Different From Others?

Did you grow up in a home with an alcoholic parent? Has it affected your ability to face social situations or make friends? You may want to take this quiz to see if you have been affected in others ways that you don't realize.

If you have been affected by growing up in an alcoholic home, you may want to try joining Al-Anon Family Groups or the support group Adult Children of Alcoholics to find out that you are not alone and there is a way to recover.

Return to: The Effects of Growing Up with an Alcoholic


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.

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