Are You an ACOA?

by Mark Sichel, LCSW

Like it or not, our parents have an impact on our behavior in ways that we may not even realize. When a parent is an alcoholic, the impact on their children can have consequences that follow them into adulthood. If one or both of your parents had a drinking problem while you were growing up, you are an Adult Child Of an Alcoholic (ACOA). Take this quiz and see just how much their drinking has affected your adult life.

Keep track of the number of questions you answer with a YES, and add up your score before consulting the score sheet below:

  1. Is it difficult for you to identify, understand, or express your feelings?

  2. Do you judge yourself more harshly than you do others?

  3. Do you have an extremely strong sense of responsibility?

  4. Do you feel guilty when you stand up for yourself?

  5. Do you find yourself afraid of or intimidated by people, particularly authority figures?

  6. Is the approval of others often more important to you than your own preferences or beliefs?

  7. Are thrills and excitement a necessary part of your life?

  8. When someone gets angry at you, do you shrivel inside?

  9. Does personal criticism make you feel as though you're under attack?

  10. Do you often find yourself feeling isolated and alone?

  11. When things go badly, do you feel like a victim?

  12. Can you answer 'yes' to a lot of questions found on an "are you an alcoholic" questionnaire although you never pick up a drink?

  13. Are you more concerned for others than for yourself?

  14. Do you find yourself constantly trying to rescue others, whether it's a friend, relative or lover?

  15. Are you uncomfortable with intimacy and revealing yourself to another person?

  16. Do you find yourself hanging onto relationships that aren't healthy?

  17. Have you ever confused pity for love?

  18. Are you currently involved with an alcoholic?

  19. Are you currently involved with any kind of compulsive personality - such as a workaholic?

  20. Have you ever been involved with an alcoholic or a compulsive personality?

  21. Do you have a drinking problem?

Add up your score.

0 - 6 You're handling things very well. Just keep an eye on yourself to make sure you don't fall into potential trouble zones. Examine your answers and see if they have a theme. Look at the issues that create the most problems, whether it be in your relationships (questions 13 - 20), or struggling with your own identity (questions 1-12).

7 - 14 Things aren't terrible, but they could be better. No need to settle for "not terrible," however. Make the effort to raise your self-esteem and clear out the obstacles that are getting in the way of fulfilling your dreams.

15 - 21 The past is casting a heavy shadow over you. Sadness, fear, and frustration rear their heads all too often. Don't sweep your feelings under the rug. It's time to face what's going on so that you can turn it around. Get out from under by getting help. It is possible to change old patterns!

Yes to #21 You are following in your parent's footsteps. Don't let your parent's addiction overwhelm your life. Don't give up on yourself. To stop the cycle, seek help now.

Whatever your score, if one or both of your parents are alcoholics, you may want to check out Al-Anon and talk to people who are also living with many of these same issues. It can't hurt, and it could help. For your local chapter, check in the phone book under "Alcoholism" or call 1-800-344-2666 (U.S.) or 1-800-443-4525 (Canada).


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