Posted by: RealisticRecovery | July 15, 2009

Adult Children of Alcoholics – Bill of Rights

Adult Children of Alcoholics – Bill of Rights

1. I have a right to all those good times that I have longed for all these years and didn’t get.
2. I have a right to joy in this life, right here, right now — not just a momentary rush of euphoria but something more substantive.
3. I have a right to relax and have fun in a nonalcoholic and nondestructive way.
4. I have a right to actively pursue people, places, and situations that will help me in achieving a good life.
5. I have the right to say no whenever I feel something is not safe or I am not ready.
6. I have a right to not participate in either the active or passive “crazy-making” behavior of parents, of siblings, and of others.
7. I have a right to take calculated risks and to experiment with new strategies.
8. I have a right to change my tune, my strategy, and my funny equations.
9. I have a right to “mess up”; to make mistakes, to “blow it”, to disappoint myself, and to fall short of the mark.
10. I have a right to leave the company of people who deliberately or inadvertently put me down, lay a guilt trip on me, manipulate or humiliate me, including my alcoholic parent, my nonalcoholic parent, or any other member of my family.
11. I have a right to put an end to conversations with people who make me feel put down and humiliated.
12. I have a right to all my feelings.
13. I have a right to trust my feelings, my judgment, my hunches, my intuition.
14. I have a right to develop myself as a whole person emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and psychologically.
15. I have a right to express all my feelings in a nondestructive way and at a safe time and place.
16. I have a right to as much time as I need to experiment with this new information and these new ideas and to initiate changes in my life.
17. I have a right to sort out the bill of goods my parents sold me — to take the acceptable and dump the unacceptable.
18. I have a right to a mentally healthy, sane way of existence, though it will deviate in part, or all, from my parents’ prescribed philosophy of life.
19. I have a right to carve out my place in this world.
20. I have a right to follow any of the above rights, to live my life the way I want to, and not wait until my alcoholic parent gets well, gets happy, seeks help, or admits there is a problem

What is ACA?

Adult Children Anonymous (formerly known as Adult Children of Alcoholics or ACOA) is a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition program of women and men who grew up in alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional homes.  We meet with each other in a mutually respectful, safe environment and acknowledge our common experiences.  We discover how childhood affected us in the past and influences us in the present.  We take positive action.  By practicing the Twelve Steps, focusing on the solution, and accepting a loving Higher Power of our understanding, we find freedom from the past and a way to improve our lives today.  The only requirement for membership is a desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family.

useful links:

ACA – Adult Children Anonymous (Adult Children of Alcoholics)

Adult Children Anonymous at


  1. Wow. I feel like I need to claim a lot of those things myself. Interesting

  2. HaHa
    It’s a great list. huh?
    Yeah, the more literature I read from ACA, the more I realize this is one of my core issues: growing up in a dysfunctional family, and realizing my own dysfunction because of it.

    One of the reasons I’ve picked up some addictions along the way is because of that initial dysfunction.

    I go to an ACA meeting on Tues here in Toronto.
    It’s a small fellowship here, but I like it for a few reasons:
    *A lot of the people at the meetings have never had an addiction. Some people just come from dysfunctional families.
    *They don’t have sponsors in ACA, so none of that “Oh you must get a sponsor” BS. You can team up as a recovery partner or join a step-study group and work the steps in a group setting.
    *I haven’t heard anyone demand I get a higher power either.
    * Their literature is very positive.

    Anyone can look for meetings in their area here:

    Worth a try if you feel like attending a 12 Step meeting to deal with stuff but want a bit of variety from AA and AL-Anon. Those meetings are good too tho.


  3. I looked up the “laundry list” and all of those characteristics are familiar to me. I never really considered my family dysfunctional until recently. I thought it was just me.

    I can’t pinpoint exactly what the dysfunction was/is, but it’s amazing how accurately that list of characteristics describes me.

    “They don’t have sponsors in ACA, so none of that “Oh you must get a sponsor” BS. You can team up as a recovery partner or join a step-study group and work the steps in a group setting.”

    Everybody tells me I need a sponsor in AA. I can see where it would be helpful, like for step 5, or if I have any questions. Maybe if I didn’t have the dialogue of the blogs, then I would seek out others’ insights elsewhere. I don’t see in “How it works” where it says I need a sponsor. I prefer the opinions and experiences of many rather than that of one. But, of course, I reserve the right to change my mind at a later point in time.

    • Thanks Melinda, I completely forgot to post the “laundry list” .
      I’m going to do it right now.


  4. I love this. Did you write it or get it from somewhere?

  5. […] is especially true, if a child grows up in a home where substance abuse or alcoholism is the norm. It’s never too late to learn your […]

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