ACA & How it Works

What is an Adult Child

Adult Children of Alcoholics uses the words of fellowship co-founder Tony A. as a foundation to define the adult child personality. An adult child is someone who responds to adult situations with self-doubt, self-blame, or a sense of being wrong or inferior…all learned from stages of childhood. Without help, we unknowingly operate with ineffective thoughts and judgments as adults. The regression can be subtle, but it is there sabotaging our decisions and relationships.

ACA and How it Works.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) is a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition program of men and women who grew up in alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional homes. The ACA program was founded on the belief that family dysfunction is a disease that effected us as children and affects us as adults. Our membership also includes adults from homes where alcohol or drugs were not present; however, abuse, neglect or unhealthy behavior was. We meet to share our experience and recovery in an atmosphere of mutual respect. We discover how alcoholism and other family dysfunction affected us in the past and how it influences us in the present. We begin to see the unhealthy elements of our childhood. By practicing the Twelve Steps, focusing on the ACA Solution, and accepting a loving Higher Power of our own understanding, we find freedom.

Why We First Came to ACA

Our decisions and answers to life did not seem to work. Our lives had become unmanageable. We exhausted all the ways we thought we could become happy. We often lost our creativity, our flexibility, and our sense of humor. Continuing the same existence was no longer an option. Nevertheless, we found it almost impossible to abandon the thought of being able to fix ourselves. Exhausted, we held out hope that a new relationship, a new job, or a move would be the cure, but it never was. We made the decision to seek help.

Why We “Keep Coming Back”

At the end of an ACA meeting, the group members encourage one another to “keep coming back” to meetings. Why? We found people in the meetings who listened to us talk. They did not judge us. They did not try to fix us. They did not interrupt us when we spoke. They merely told us that if we came to meetings on a regular basis, we would gradually begin to feel better. We did.


The only requirement for membership is a desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family.

Literature Policy

Many 12-Step programs require that only literature published within the program be available at meetings. The ACA program, from the outset, has held that valuable information exists outside the program. We do suggest that any outside literature brought into the meetings be in keeping with the ACA 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. Our program also suggests that such literature be kept separate from ACA Conference Approved literature. For more information on the ACA literature policy, refer to the brochure entitled, “The ACA Literature Policy.”

Contributions are Voluntary

No dues or fees are required for membership; we are, however, fully self-supporting through our own contributions. We give our 7th Tradition donations at the meetings as we can afford to, in acknowledgment of the benefits our program gives us. At the meeting level our contributions are used to keep the doors open (pay the rent, buy the refreshments, make literature available), at the Regional level to keep the lines of communications open between Intergroups and World Service, and at the World Service level so people can find meetings. Each member has a responsibility to keep ACA operational by ensuring their meeting supports their Intergroup, Region, and World Service organizations.