Growing up in a household with an alcoholic parent is not rare, unfortunately, but it is detrimental to long term health. For young children, growing up in a household with an alcoholic parent can shape the rest of the child’s life. If the mother drinks while pregnant this may result in fetal alcohol syndrome, impacting the child for life. The risks are great when growing up in a family with alcoholism but there are more ways than ever to seek help.

The Impact of Drinking

Children of alcoholic parents may be exposed early on to alcoholic behavior which can have an ongoing effect on the view of alcohol and self-worth. The following are all ways having an alcoholic parent can impact a child:


It may be easy for a child to blame themselves for the drinking behavior, thinking if the person behaved better or were smarter, the adult would not be driven to drink. This is false and can lead to grappling with lots of challenging assumptions and pain going forward.


Having an alcoholic parent in the household is a weight that is too great for a child to carry. Many may wonder how bad it will be that day, if the adult will cause self harm or harm another person. Abuse may be present and the child may live in fear of physical or psychological abuse.


Children of parents with alcoholism often lack routine which is important for young children. Some days there may be three meals and early bed time while at others they may eat one time and go to bed really late. The lack of consistency in schedule and dependability on the parent’s mood swings can create a lot of tension for young children. Children may strive to seek acceptance from a parent who is unable to give it to them.


Alcohol in a family is damaging to a child’s sense of self and may breed feelings of resentment and anger growing up. The anger may often take root deeply and impact a child’s performance in school or ability to interact with others and succeed. Depression may also take root.

Some other side effects of having a family member with alcoholism can include:

  • Trouble forming relationships as an adult
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Substance abuse


The key thing to remember is adult children of alcoholic parents can still make positive, life affirming choices when there is help provided. Until a person looks at the reasons why he or she is behaving in a certain way or using substances to cover up past pain and trauma, the healing cannot begin. When a person is ready to admit there is a problem, the true power of recovery can take hold.


Cypress Lakes works to demonstrate the power of owning your life here and now. You can make positive choices to move your life forward even if past choices were made for you as a child. Call us to find out how our treatment programs and services can help you rebuild the life you have always dreamt of, free of substances and addiction: 866-217-2636