The Legacy of
Someone you know grew
up with a problem drinker. One of every
five college students is the adult child of
an alcoholic (ACOA). Students who identify
themselves as children of alcohol abusers
report more problems due to their drinking
than other students. These consequences
include damaged interpersonal
relationships, drinking to relax, and
concern from others about their drinking
Identifying the ACOA
(Adult Child of an Alcoholic)
People who grow up with
an alcoholic adult in the family often have
certain personality characteristics. See
how often the following statements reflect
how you feel now or how you have felt as a
child. These are typical statements for
people who were raised with an alcoholic
parent. They are also common to those
reared by parents who don't drink much but
who were themselves raised by an
I'm usually involved
in so many activities that I barely have
time for myself.
It's important for me
to always do the "right thing."
I think one of my
parents has a drinking problem.
If I don't give in to
my friends, I feel guilty.
I have a need for
It's difficult for me
to feel close to others.
My parents fight when
one of them drinks.
I have lost sleep
over my parent's drinking habits.
I care for others but
don't really know my own needs.
I usually cannot
express my own emotions.
I'm a nice person but
my friends/boy-or girlfriend
complain/complains that I won't get
I feel different from
I am afraid that
alcohol use will cause my parents to
I'm leaving home as
soon as I'm old enough.
It's my fault that my
family has so many problems.
People praise me for
all my accomplishments, but I never think
that I've done enough.
I wish my home could
be more like those of my friends who do
not have a parent with a drinking
I stay away from home
because my parent drinks.
I take care of
others, but no one takes care of
People tell me I have
a lot of potential but that I lack
I have felt sick,
cried, or had knots in my stomach after
worrying about a parent's
Others' approval is
very important to me.
Score: A score of at least
4 to 6 positive responses indicates a
strong identification with the typical
characteristics of an ACOA. If you would
like to discuss this further, support
groups such as MTSU ACOA group or the local
Al-Anon chapter are good sources of
(These questions are modified or
adapted from the Childen of Alcoholics
Screening Test (CAST),
Jones: The Family Recovery Press,
the Recovery COA Quiz
and the Did You Grow Up With A
Problem Drinker Quiz
from Al-Anon, 1984.)