Tuesday, October 7, 2014


“Adult children of alcoholic parents have the highest rate of attention disorders among any clinical group.”- according to professor Steven L. Schandler, director of the Addiction Research and Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratories at Chapman University.

In a recent Orange County Register article
(Click here for full article), Schandler also claimed that when ACOAs with ADD consume alcohol, “their systems slow down to a 'normal' level, which enhances their ability to process information.” This self medication can be a risk factor in ACOAs becoming alcoholics themselves. Children of alcoholics are up to 14 times more likely to have substance abuse problems than children of nonalcoholics.

It has also been documented that People with ADHD have at least one defective gene that makes it difficult for neurons to respond to dopamine, a key neurotransmitter regulating attention and feelings of pleasure.

What do YOU think? Do you find yourself drinking alcohol or binging on sugar or junk food in order to “feel better” or think more clearly?

One coping skill that has proven to work is exercise. Working out changes your physiology and increases chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good naturally. Plus exercise can increase blood flow, self esteem and help ward off anxiety.

What's your favorite coping mechanism?

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Traumatic Memories

When writer Annette McGivney set out to do research on a murder for a new book, she developed nightmares, panic attacks and insomnia. Her diagnosis was delayed onset post-traumatic stress disorder. The cause was 30 years of repressed fear that she had successfully kept a secret — especially from herself — that as a little girl she feared her my raging father would kill her.

“Most adult children (of abuse) reach adulthood with their secrets intact,” writes Judith Hermann, M.D., in “Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence from Domestic Abuse and Political Terror.” But “as the survivor struggles with the tasks of adult life, the legacy of her childhood becomes increasingly burdensome. Eventually, often in the third or fourth decade of life, the defensive structure may begin to break down…”

Annette writes: PTSD is not a sickness. It is the mind and body’s normal reaction to what is perceived as life threatening circumstances. But for adults who have experienced chronic, prolonged trauma — usually on the battlefield or growing up in abusive homes — this fight, flight or freeze reaction becomes deeply imbedded in the central nervous system and can make the challenge of recovering from PTSD daunting, and for some, seemingly impossible.

For her, the answer was in tackling the trapped energy - “the poison that lies beneath the surface”. Under the guidance of a trained trauma therapist, Annette was able to re-experience those episodes when she was on the receiving end of her father’s rage. Eventually, through Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and Somatic Experiencing (SE) techniques, “That kid in me became convinced she was finally safe and could start to let down her guard… Instead of re-experiencing what actually happened, I chose escape. I envisioned calmly walking out the back door of my childhood home and down my sunlit driveway into the woods where I loved to roam.”

After three and a half years of working on recovery every single day, Annette remains on a lifelong journey toward healing and has found peace in the present.

Annette McGivney is a writer and 18-year Flagstaff resident. She teaches journalism at Northern Arizona University and is the Southwest Editor for Backpacker magazine.

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Control Freaks- 8 Signs To Watch For

CONTROL is usually a reaction to FEAR. Controlling, overbearing, "my way or the highway" behaviors are an attempt to calm the inner anxiety and panic that an overwhelming amount of sustained chaos created in a dysfunctional family or environment, usually experienced in the formative years. Adult Children Of Alcoholics may be prone to continuing controlling patterns into adulthood.

Control freaks rarely know that they are one. They believe that they are helping people with their "constructive criticism" or taking over a project because "no one else will do it right."

They don't see their controlling behaviors as symptoms of what's really going on--their own anxiety has run amuck.

Irrational thoughts abound in our high stress world: If I don't get this contract, I'll get fired. If I'm not home by 6:00, I'm a terrible parent. If I don't get that raise, I suck at my job. All of these thoughts might be true, but probably not.

Rather than tackle our own irrational thinking and massage it into more realistic thinking, we attempt to control the situation, usually by trying to control other people.

Want to know if you're a control freak? Here are eight signs for your self-diagnosing pleasure:

* You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you'd be happier. So you try to "help them" change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over.

* You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don't believe in imperfection and you don't think anyone else should either.

* You judge others' behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.

* You offer "constructive criticism" as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.

* You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.

* You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering.

* You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.

* You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others.

You believe that if you can change another person's undesirable behavior, then you will be happier or more fulfilled. You make someone else responsible for how you feel. The thing is, you are only responsible for you. The road to better relationships always starts with you. Rather than attempt to control everyone else, work on becoming a better version of yourself. Here are a few ideas:

* Be vulnerable with people.
* Never compromise your self-respect by altering your core beliefs.
* Be realistic about your expectations of others.
* Quit the passive-aggressive nonsense--be direct.
* Accept that a large portion of life is laced with unknowns.
* Embrace confrontation--it really is sometimes the only thing you can do.
* Take responsibility for your own happiness.

If you work on your own improvement instead of trying to control others, healthier relationships at work, as well as everywhere else, will then come to you as a result.

- Anonymous

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

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Healing Personal Developmental Trauma

Relational or developmental trauma can be unknowingly inflicted by parents who are not aware of the physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional needs of their children. These parents are unable to respond to these needs properly because they did not get these needs met when THEY were children. These kinds traumas can go unnoticed as they are often subtle interactions between parent and child that don’t seem unusual. But inside for the child, not having these needs met becomes something bigger.

According to the Weinholds, when “developmental trauma” happens in the first 3 years of life it instills a fear based, survival mentality that supersedes “higher consciousness” capabilities. Being overwhelmed by one or more early “Adverse Childhood Experiences" (ACEs) makes it harder for trauma survivors like Adult Children Of Alcoholics to solve problems and live fulfilled lives.

Such early negative experiences helps to explain why some people may have little recollection of their own traumas, yet it plays out in their everyday lives and interactions with other people. The characteristics and behaviors that ACA’s often have is evidence of past trauma. Without a clear recollection of this past damage or an obvious signpost it becomes easy to minimize, if not completely ignore, the seriousness of their effects.

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