I perform service so that my program will grow and be available for myself, and through those efforts others may benefit it. I perform service and practice my recovery:

  • by affirming that the true power of our program rests in the membership meetings and is expressed through our Higher Power and through our group conscience;
  • by confirming that our process is one of inclusion and not exclusion, showing special sensitivity to the view of the minority in the process of formulating the group conscience so that any decision is reflective of the spirit of the group and not merely the vote of the majority;
  • by placing principles before personalities;
  • by keeping myself fit for service by working my recovery as a member of the program;
  • by striving to facilitate the sharing of experience, strength and hope at all levels – meetings, intergroups, service boards, and World Service;
  • by accepting the differing forms and levels of service and allowing those around me each to function according to their own abilities;
  • by remaining willing to forgive myself and others for not doing it perfectly;
  • by being willing to surrender the position in which I serve in the interest of unity and to provide the opportunity for others to serve; to avoid problems of money, property, and prestige; and to avoid losing my own recovery through the use of service to act out my old behavior – especially taking care of others, controlling, rescuing, being a victim, etc.;
  • by remembering I am a trusted servant; I do not govern.

**This document was introduced at the ACA CSB/IWSO Business Conference, January 17, 1987, in San Diego, California, and is not presented as the definition of service, but as a sharing of information.

ACA Nederlands – ACA Intergroup IG#711
ACA Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families

The Sequence of ACA Recovery

Not everyone recovers using the same path, at the same rate, or using the same methodology. The following 12 Step type sequence has helped millions in various recovery programs.  Use what you like and leave the rest.

  • Hitting bottom /Asking for and accepting help
  • Admitting powerlessness and unmanageability
  • Becoming open to spirituality and a spiritual solution
  • Getting honest / Inventorying our past
  • Telling our story openly and honestly with another
  • Humbly seeking the removal of shortcomings
  • Finding self-forgiveness
  • Making amends to those harmed
  • Continuing inventory of daily thoughts and behavior
  • Finding discernment
  • Meditating and seeking spiritual direction
  • Practicing love and self-love
  • Carrying the message of recovery to others

The ACA solution is to become your own loving parent.

ACA’s: “Loving Parent or reparenting?”
What is a Loving Parent or reparenting? What Does It Mean to Become Your Own Loving Parent?

Most people arrive at ACA with a critical inner voice. Some of us call this voice a Critical Parent. By becoming our own Loving Parent, we begin to take better care of ourselves. By learning the true qualities of a Loving Parent or reparenting, we recognize that the care we received from our biological parents was not healthy love. By reparenting ourselves, we accept that we have positive qualities. We stop the critical self-talk through affirmations and journaling. We learn to parent ourselves with a more loving voice inside. We realize we have something to offer to our ACA support group and to society.

The Loving Parent is the inner parent we can develop from the part of us that took action to care for ourselves as children and can be awakened in recovery. The first step in reparenting ourselves involves recognizing the loving voice inside. Our experience that shows that every adult child has love inside regardless of what the person says or believes. Love is there and it is original.

From the ACA Fellowship text book -‘Big Red Book’.
© Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organisation

ACA: “Our Loving Parent/reparenting reading”
As we awaken the Loving Parent inside, we remember a simple slogan: “First Things First.” Many adult children rush into Inner Child work without taking time to meet their inner, caring parent. As a result, some of us will struggle with finding the Inner Child until we take this necessary step. The Inner Child will not usually emerge until we establish our Loving Parent. In some cases, a sabotaging aspect of the Inner Child will emerge if we rush this phase of our recovery. This angry aspect of the Inner Child can overpower the newly developing Loving Parent and delay recovery.

We awaken the Loving Parent inside by actively listening to what we tell ourselves about ourselves. We stop in mid-sentence if we are putting ourselves down or criticizing our thoughts or behaviors. We identify the source of the negativity which is the inner critic inside all adult children. We face this critical voice with affirmations that state who we truly are. Through reparenting ourselves, we reframe our mistakes as chances to learn or grow emotionally. This is a sign of becoming our own Loving Parent.

Another way in which we can become our own Loving Parent is to realize that we will not recover overnight. ACA recovery takes time. Even when we attend meetings, work the Steps, and use the telephone, we can still struggle at times. ACA is simple, but it takes a balanced effort and patience at times to make it through. We can do everything right and still wonder if we are making progress. A Loving Parent inside reminds us that we are good enough and that we are making progress. In ACA we become willing to apply what we learn in the program to our daily lives and to relationships. We must be willing to apply the principles of the Steps and to reparent ourselves if we want to change. Our principles of the Steps are:
Step 1: Powerlessness and Surrender
Step 2: Openmindedness and Clarity
Step 3: Willingness and Accepting Help
Step 4: Self-honesty and Courage
Step 5: Honesty and Trust
Step 6: Willingness
Step 7: Humility
Step 8: Willingness and Self-forgiveness
Step 9: Forgiveness and Courage
Step 10: Honesty and Discernment
Step 11: Seeking and Listening
Step 12: Love and Self-love

By reparenting ourselves, we can further remove the “buttons” that have been pushed by others to manipulate us or to get a reaction out of us. Through a Loving Parent inside, we gain greater independence from codependence. We find the skills to support our need to become independent people. We intuitively know what we need and what we can live without. We will learn to act as an actor to people, places, things and circumstances. We learn to truly see, listen and understand the present moment, the point between past and future. We learn to live and let live.

From the ACA Fellowship text book -‘Big Red Book’.
© Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organisation

The ACA True Parent Calls
Every adult child has unexpressed grief, which is usually represented by the symptoms of depression, lethargy, or forms of dissociation. The grief that we speak of in ACA is the cumulative loss of childhood. Grief is loss that is stuck beneath denial, wilful forgetting, and the fear of being perceived as dramatizing the past. Grief is the built up defeats, slights, and neglect from childhood. We carry this grief with us as we create careers, raise families or trudge through life as best we can.

The losses we speak of in ACA include the actions and inaction of our parents or family. Being shamed by our parents or a relative represents the loss of being able to feel whole as a person. Shame tramples a child’s natural love and trust and replaces it with malignant self-doubt. With shame, we lose our ability to trust ourselves or others. We feel inherently faulty as a child.

Long-time ACA members understand the importance of claiming grief or loss. Grief work restores the power of tears. We find out that emotional pain can be the gateway to a closer connection with God as we understand God. After making it through we feel changed. We embrace the inner strength we have always had, and we see emotional pain in a new light. We see it as one instrument which can temper our diamond-hard survival traits. By facing our pain, we learn that we really are not alone in our suffering. When we find ourselves in this kind of pain we stay close to meetings and keep our faces turned towards God as we understand God.

Each adult child has been a spiritual seeker from childhood without knowing it. We are now realizing it as recovering adult children. Some of us took the long route, but the steering was there. The seeking was there. The intuition was there. We cannot stop ourselves from seeking contact with a Higher Power. It is part of being an adult child, and we must accept this great fact. We are called to God and cannot resist. Acting distracted or indifferent no longer works. The True Parent calls.

From the ACA ‘Big Red Book’ (pp.199-267)
© Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organisation

Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics

Adapted from Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Janet G. Woititz, Ed.D., 1987.

1) We guess at what normal behavior is. Because of our environment, we had no role models for normalcy, so we acted the way we saw other people act, people we thought were normal, and continue this performance into our adult lives.

2) We have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end; we procrastinate. Procrastination in the usual sense is the result of laziness. Adult children of alcoholics have never been taught how to solve a problem in systematic, manageable amounts. It was always all or nothing. Consequently, we don’t have adult life skills.

3) We lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. Lies, specifically lies of denial, were used to benefit the alcoholics and para alcoholics of our homes.

4) We judge ourselves without mercy. Since there is no way for us to meet the unattainable standards of perfection we have internalized from childhood, we are always falling short of the mark we have set for ourselves. If we are responsible for some positive outcome we dismiss it by saying, “Oh, that was easy,” and so on. This is often confused with humility but is actually poor self-esteem. We should keep our poor self-esteem in mind when taking the Fourth and Fifth steps.

5) We have difficulty having fun. For most of us having fun was just a childhood fantasy. We were always imprisoned by
the anger and hostility of alcoholism, even if physically removed from the alcoholic, the disease was already part of us.

6) We take ourselves very seriously. The normal spontaneity of childhood was squashed so many years ago by the pressure to be adult. Living with one or more addicts forced us to be on guard constantly. Seriousness was the only option. Now we can’t have fun.

7) We have difficulty with intimate relationships. For most of us the only reference of intimate relationships was that of our parents. Our inconsistent parent child relationships caused us to feel an overwhelming fear of abandonment. We are left too inexperienced and fearful to let ourselves get close to anyone.

8) We overreact to changes over which we have no control. As young children the addict’s life was inflicted on us as part
of our environment. Our only recourse was to try to take control totally. Now any change which we are unaware of or
have no control over leaves us feeling desperate and vulnerable.

9) We constantly seek approval and affirmation. The love we received as children was very erratic. The affirmations we didn’t get on a day to day basis as children, we interpreted as negative, leaving us with low self images. If someone likes us, gives us affirmation and accepts us, we usually judge them worthless. Our low self images thrive on this.

10) Because of our secretive childhood sufferings, we thought that things were always better in the “house next door.” NOBODY could possibly feel the same way as we did. Therefore, we felt unique, not a part of the group, and always looking in through an imaginary barrier.

11) We are super responsible or super irresponsible. So much of our lives are all or nothing when trying to please our parents we did more and more and more; some of us realized early in our childhood, that there simply was no pleasing them, so we did nothing. We people please until we burn out for two basic reasons; one, because we don’t have a realistic sense of our own capabilities or, two because if we say NO, we’re afraid someone might find out how inadequate we feel and no longer like us.

12) We are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. Since starting a relationship is so difficult and frightening, when we do so we expect it to be permanent. This loyalty is usually caused by fear of abandonment. At home we always “hung in there” enabling the addict and denying the disease.

13) We are impulsive. As children our impulsivity was usually denied or covered up by our parents. We seldom suffered the consequences for impulsivity, leaving us with no deterrent, and we allow our impulsive behavior to continue in our adult lives.

Adapted from Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Janet G. Woititz, Ed.D., 1987.