About ACA

Welcome to the ACA program. This is a 12-Step, 12-Tradition fellowship focused on recovering from specific behavior and attitude patterns developed while growing up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional home.

ACA is not meant to be a substitute for other 12-Step programs but the tools we offer can be helpful in recovery. Meetings are intended to be safe places where we can share our experience, strength and hope without judgment or criticism. We have the right to listen without sharing until we are ready.

This program is grounded in spiritual guidance, not affiliated with any particular religion. We respect one another’s anonymity: who we see at meetings and what they say is treated confidentially.

We meet together to do what we have been unable to do alone. We welcome you to join us.

How It Works

As ACA becomes a safe place for you, you will find freedom to express all the hurts and fears that you have kept inside and to free yourself from the shame and blame that are carry-overs from the past. You will become an adult who is imprisoned no longer by childhood reactions. You will recover the child within you, learning to love and accept yourself.


These are characteristics we seem to have in common due to being brought up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional household.

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. 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.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We become addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue”.
  10. 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).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.
  1. We will discover our real identities by loving and accepting ourselves.
  2. Our self-esteem will increase as we give ourselves approval on a daily basis.
  3. Fear of authority figures and the need to “people-please” will leave us.
  4. Our ability to share intimacy will grow inside us.
  5. As we face our abandonment issues, we will be attracted by strengths and become more tolerant of weaknesses.
  6. We will enjoy feeling stable, peaceful, and financially secure.
  7. We will learn how to play and have fun in our lives.
  8. We will choose to love people who can love and be responsible for themselves.
  9. Healthy boundaries and limits will become easier for us to set.
  10. Fears of failures and success will leave us, as we intuitively make healthier choices.
  11. With help from our ACA support group, we will slowly release our dysfunctional behaviors.
  12. Gradually, with our Higher Power’s help, we learn to expect the best and get it.

These are the ACA twelve steps of recovery of the Adult Children of Alcoholics program.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over the effects of alcoholism or other family dysfunction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. 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 it out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others who still suffer, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

These are the ACA twelve traditions of the Adult Children of Alcoholics program.

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on ACA unity.
     
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.
     
  3. The only requirement for membership in ACA is a desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family.
     
  4. Each group is autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or ACA as a whole. We cooperate with all other Twelve-Step programs.
     
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the adult child who still suffers.
     
  6. An ACA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the ACA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
     
  7. Every ACA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
     
  8. Adult Children of Alcoholics should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
     
  9. ACA, as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
     
  10. Adult Children of Alcoholics has no opinion on outside issues; hence the ACA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
     
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV, and films.
     
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.