Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The "Adult Children Of Alcoholics" title can be a bit of a misnomer. It is a blanket term that includes those who suffered abuse or neglect even though their parents didn't drink. The cause of the trauma matters not. Everyone who suffered from dysfunctional parenting is welcomed into the fellowship of ACA with open arms.

My fear is that some of these people may never make it to an ACA meeting. They may, after hearing the word "alcoholic", quickly decide that they do not belong in this group. I have the advantage of knowing that even if my parents stopped drinking it would not have changed their behavior. The anger, judgement and fear I grew up with would still have emerged.

Recently I saw the term "Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families" or ACODF. It seems a more inclusive term than ACA or ACOA and more clearly describes the broad spectrum of people who grew up with all types of parental dysfunction. This acronym is a more apt fit for the majority of the population that grew up with dysfunction, with or without the substance abuse component.

There are many who don't know where to seek help or have yet to discover they even need it. Here's hoping the inclusive term, ACODF, will inspire a feeling of belonging and is seen as a warm invitation to join in recovery!

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children


Donna M Torbico said...

I was very lucky that my Al-anon friends sent me to ACoA meetings (35 yrs ago!) even tho my parents never drank. It turns out they were both ACoAs! ACoDF needs to be better published. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt agree more. Drinking was a cover for the pain inside and in actuality for me that pain was more dibilitating than the drinking. I saw my dad break down under the effects of alcohol and I saw my mom stay and make excuses. I later heard the truth of THEIR families and the generations before them. Alcohol was the anesthesizer while the real bad stuff was underneath. When they didnt drink it was many times worse.Mood alteration was as easily done with gambling, prescription drugs. sex, politics, religion- you name it.

Anonymous said...

My parents didn't drink but I had 5 older siblings who drank and did drugs. Our family was quite dysfunctional. After reading a book on the subject I am looking forward to attending my first ACOA/ACODF meeting next week.

De said...

Somewhere in the mid to late 80's, it was brought up to change the name to "Adult Children Anonymous" to be more inclusive. It was voted down.
I think that the movement was still so new to it's identity, that to say "Adult Children", without the "of Alcoholics" might have diluted the meaning and been more vague.
I know for me at the time, it was all I had to identify with and I needed something to let me know there was something wrong in my family and not with me.
I do wish it had been changed now, with all the seeming confusion; and they have added "and/or dysfunctional families" to be more inclusive. Which it always was, but I know sometimes it's hard to figure out. I didn't see the alcoholism in my family for years but I knew my grandfather was an alcoholic. I also knew it had to mean ANY "ism" because that only made sense to me ie workaholism, gambling, eating, sex, etc.
In those early years the tradition read: "The only requirement for membership is that one identifies with the problem". For me, that was what as most important and I wish it still read that way.
There are a lot of people I know that still don't know if their family was functional or not but identify with the problem.
Lastly, there is a program called "Adult Children Anonymous". I am not sure what their goal is but one can always see if that might be a fit also.

John K said...

Adult child of rage, emotional abuse, and violence. Not a drink in sight. Glad to be here.