Welcome to the Southeast Texas Intergroup website for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA). Just taking the time to find us, was a big first step in your recovery. If you can relate to any of the “Laundry List” characteristics listed below, you’re probably in the right place. We hope that you find this to be a helpful resource. Bookmark this page for future reference, and use this site as one of your recovery tools. We are currently building our website and will add more resources in the future.
– Southeast Texas Intergroup
The WSO monthly newsletter is available at http://www.adultchildren.org/comline
ACA has the distinction of having twenty-four steps. The ‘ACA Steps’ were adapted from AA’s Steps in 1984. Tony A, ACA’s principal
founder, wanted more. He thought that AA’s steps failed to address the adult child’s core dilemma – and in fact could reinforce our
already considerable shame and sense of being wrong. He believed we could not find clarity or peace until we realized what had been handed off to us in our family system, as we had typically internalized our parents’ behavior as children. His steps focus on healing together in optimal safety through self-love and self-forgiveness, guided by a Higher Power. They were published in his 1991 book, The Laundry List: The ACoA Experience, after years of refining. As he noted, “Adult Children of Alcoholics should strive to make these twelve steps an integral part of daily living. I’m absolutely convinced that I would have had a very limited and narrow recovery had I chosen not to learn how to love myself, take an inventory of my parents, keep the focus on myself and find a Higher Power to act as a loving parent.”
Houston Area Meeting Times
National Phone Meetings
ACA World Service Organization
What is ACA?
Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA or ACoA), is as an international 12 Step recovery program for individuals who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes. ACA is based on the belief that the disease of alcoholism and family dysfunction infected us as children and continues to affect us as adults.
What is an “Adult Child”?
An adult child is someone who meets the demands of life with survival techniques learned as children. Without help, we unknowingly operate with ineffective thoughts and judgments that can sabotage our decisions and relationships.
Who Attends our Meetings?
ACA is not limited to those from alcoholic homes. If you identify with traits from The Laundry List (below), ACA might benefit you. Find your first meeting in the menu bar above.
The ACA Laundry List
These are some characteristics we seem to have in common due to being brought up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional household.
- We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
- We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
- We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
- We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
- We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
- We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
- We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
- We become addicted to excitement.
- We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue”.
- We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (denial).
- We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
- We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
- Alcoholism is a family disease and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
- Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.
Tony A’s 12 Steps of ACA Recovery compared to ACA’s 12 Steps of ACA Recovery
- Tony A’s: We admitted that we were powerless over the effects of living with alcoholism and that our lives had become unmanageable.
- 1b>> (ACA’s) We admitted we were powerless over the effects of alcoholism or other family dysfunction, that our lives had become unmanageable. ACA Steps are 1b, 2b, etc. & follow >>
- We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could bring us clarity.
- 2b>>(ACA’s) Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to practice self-love and to trust a Higher Power of our understanding.
- 3b>> Made a decision to turn our will & our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.
- We made a searching and blameless inventory of our parents because, in essence, we had become them.
- 4b>> Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our childhood abandonment.
- 5b>> Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to begin the healing process with the aid of our Higher Power.
- 6b>> Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked our Higher Power to help us with our healing process.
- 7b>> Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- We became willing to open ourselves to receive the unconditional love of our Higher Power.
- 8b>> Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We became willing to accept our own unconditional love by understanding that our Higher Power loves us unconditionally.
- 9b>> Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and to love and approve of ourselves.
- 10b>> Continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power, praying only for knowledge of its will for us and the power to carry it out.
- 11b>> Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- We have had a spiritual awakening as a result of taking these steps, and we continue to love ourselves and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
- 12b>> Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this.message to others who still suffer, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Most 12 Step fellowships believed that you could not look at parental behavior without falling into blame and self-pity. Tony wanted more. He believed we could not find clarity or peace until we assessed what had been handed off to us in our family system, when as children we had internalized the behavior of our parents. However, we do not have to stay stuck with this inheritance. We can take a blameless and fair inventory of our parents as well as a balanced one of ourselves. The ACA Steps were adapted in ‘reactor’ mode from AA’s in 1984. Tony’s focus: WE (together), self-love, healing and providing adult children optimal safety. They were published in his The Laundry List: The ACoA Experience in 1991 after many years of refining.
Monthly Intergroup Meetings – 2 pm every 3rd Sunday of the month at Chapelwood Methodist Church, 11140 Greenbay St. in Houston, TX, 77024. We will be in the Williams Building, at the back on the east side. We’re in Rm #204 (up the stairs to the left -1st room on the right). These monthly gatherings are open to all ACA interested folks who might like to further their own recovery through collaborative self-care, education and service – all within healthy boundaries. Whether a seasoned veteran of our program from the Woodlands or a newcomer from Clear Lake or beyond, we invite you. We have fun – and we are not denying it.