Adult Children of Alcoholics, also known as ACOA, is a free 12-step program that holds meetings in which members are able to share their stories and support others who have been negatively affected by the disease of alcoholism. "Adult children" is the term used in this program for people who grew up in dysfunctional, neglectful or abusive homes because their parents or other family members were alcoholics.
Members of the ACOA program do not necessarily need to be the children of alcoholics to participate in these meetings. The only requirement for membership is identifying with "the problem" is this program. "The Problem" is a ACOA statement that describes how many children from dysfunctional or alcoholic families tend to behave as adults. For example, people who identify as ACOA tend to feel uncomfortable around other people, so they often try to compensate for this by being people-pleasers. Furthermore, adult children also can take on the victim mentality, which leads them to focus on reactions of other people rather than taking positive actions in their own lives.
Getting a sponsor, working the 12 steps of the ACOA program, reading the literature and attending meetings help members of this organization recover from childhood trauma, develop independent identities and learn positive coping mechanisms.