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Thirteen Characteristics Of Adult Children
(As written by Janet Geringer Woititz)

Adult children of alcoholics:

1. Guess at what normal behavior is.

2. Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.

3. Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.

4. Judge themselves without mercy.

5. Have difficulty having fun.

6. Take themselves very seriously.

7. Have difficulty with intimate relationships.

8. Overreact to changes over which they have no control.

9. Constantly seek approval and affirmation.

10. Usually feel that they are different from other people.

11. Are super responsible or super irresponsible.

12. Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.

13. Are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.


  • Janet points out that adult children can be children of alcoholics or children from many other types of dysfunctional situations. Examples include growing up with people who had other compulsive behaviors (such as gambling, drug abuse, workaholic, overeating), experienced chronic illness, profound religious attitudes, were adopted, lived in foster care, lived with divorced parents, etc.
  • Janet's book, Adult Children of Alcoholics is available on Amazon here, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
  • The topics below are often discussed at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, a 12 Step recovery program for adults whose lives were affected as a result of being raised in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional family.

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This page updated 03/07/18 10:06 AM