ACA Syndrome – This term refers to people who grew up in a family where one or both of their parents were abusing alcohol.
When alcohol addiction develops in a family, it is the children who suffer the most. Their basic physical (food, shelter, protection) and emotional needs (unconditional love, care, acceptance, warmth and affection) are relegated to the background, and all activities are focused on the alcohol abuser. It happens that a parent who does not abuse alcohol focuses so much on the situation that has arisen that he forgets about the needs of young adults.
Every day, children from alcoholic families are accompanied by: constant unpredictability of events, contradictory messages, deceptions, ridicule, disregard, lack of respect for dignity, living in fear and fear. As a result, they become adults and learn to cope with the days of chaos, uncertainty, insecurity and clear rules.
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As adults, we do not realize that we experience and interpret current events and relationships in a specific way – on the basis of a set of fixed personality patterns of psychosocial functioning that arose in childhood in an alcoholic family.
What roles do the ACA play?
In a dysfunctional family with an alcohol problem, the roles are reversed – the children are for the family, not the other way around. They are forced to play specific roles: family hero, matching child, peacemaker, scapegoat, lost child or jester.
The hero of the family – a potential workaholic
The oldest child usually becomes the hero of the family. He takes over the problems, responsibilities and responsibility for his own parents. He takes care of his siblings, giving up his own needs.
He stands out at school, gives the impression of being strong, obligatory and task-oriented. It might seem that it does not require care and support. In adulthood, such a child can become a workaholic with a highly developed sense of control, excessive perfectionism and a distrust of others. He obsessively wants to lead and control everything and everyone, and unpredictable situations cause him fear and panic.
He cannot relax and have fun. He lives in constant tension. He has difficulty establishing and maintaining social relationships, which is why he has no friends. He is also unable to recognize and express his own feelings and the needs of others.
Matched child – with low self-esteem
Usually, middle or younger siblings become the matched child. It is cared for by a responsible sister or brother (family hero). He is not emotionally involved in family life and can adapt. Seemingly nothing can hurt him.
Gives the impression of a person who adapts and adapts easily. However, she is an unnoticeable and overlooked child: in the family, school, and among peers.
In adulthood, the Adult Child of the Alcoholic who acts as a fit child may have low self-esteem and problems with being able to control his own life.
The child is the peacemaker – he cannot take care of himself
The peacemaker child feels responsible for the mood in the family. He tries to solve the problems of his entire environment, incl. father’s anger, mother’s sadness and siblings’ fears.
He cares for and comforts other family members in their daily quarrels. He does not pay attention to his needs. In adulthood, a crisis can arise if there is nobody to look after. He cannot take care of himself.
A scapegoat is a child who causes upbringing problems at home and at school. It responds to anger and anger through irresponsible, destructive behavior, legal offenses, risky behavior, and the abuse of psychoactive substances.
It happens that children playing this role are psychiatric patients or stay in correctional homes. Their behavior distracts from family problems.
The adult child of the alcoholic, who plays the role of a scapegoat, has problems in adapting to social life, in adjusting to the norms of coexistence with others. He experiences failures and failures in life. He fights with everyone, which often exposes himself to social disapproval. He is unable to maintain lasting social ties.