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Children of Alcoholic Homes May Have Trust Issues

Real Stories from Adult Children of Alcoholics

By

Updated June 22, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

When children grow up in a home with alcoholism, and the usual denial that surrounds it, they may develop serious trust issues as adults. The lies, the keeping secrets, and the broken promises all add up to send a message to the children that trusting can backfire on them.

Many grow into adulthood not being able to truly trust anyone, which affects their romantic, professional and spiritual relationships with others. They have been disappointed too often by the alcoholic parent to really let themselves fully trust.

Having trust issues is one of the common characteristics that many adult children of alcoholics share. Although these traits are common to adult children of alcoholics, they can also occur due to other family dysfunctions and development issues.

Visitors to the About.com Alcoholism site in answering the question, "How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?" tell their stories with trust issues below:

Won't Take the Chance
I want to trust people but there is a little voice in the back of my head warning me to stay safe. Better to be alone than to ever subject myself to even the chance that someone might abuse me emotionally the way my mother did. -- Pufflet

Paralyzed Emotionally
I am so afraid of trusting anyone, I feel paralyzed emotionally. I am a 42 year old women that has never had a meaningful relationship with a man. I feel so alone and that my life has been a complete and total waste of time. I yearn for someone to love me, but I am unable to let anyone close enough to love. I too am a fixer, but I am unable to fix me. I am damaged goods, unable to live the life that I see others living, unable to love or trust anyone. -- Git It Girl

I Trust No One
The effects of my childhood have been numerous and overwhelming. I'm 27 years old and have had only one long term relationship which was very dysfunctional. I have an intense fear of intimacy and trust no one. I have recently become extremely isolated in my life. -- L.W.

Everyone Will Let Me Down
I have serious trust issues, I believe that everyone will eventually let me down, but really it's no more than I deserve. -- Orla

Were You Affected?

Do you have trouble trusting anyone? Have you been affected in other ways by growing up with alcoholism in the home? You may want to take this quiz to find out other ways you may have been affected without realizing it.

Many adult children of alcoholics who find it difficult to trust have found help by becoming members of Al-Anon Family Groups or the support group Adult Children of Alcoholics.

Return to: The Effects of Growing Up with an Alcoholic

Sources:

Janet G. Woititz, "The 13 Characteristics of Adult Children," The Awareness Center. Accessed November 2010.

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.

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