4 Ways Al-Anon Helps Families Heal
There’s AA for alcoholics, NA for narcotic addicts, and even MA for those addicted to marijuana. But what about people who’ve been affected by alcohol and alcoholism, but don’t have a problem drinking? Don’t they have a support group?
They do, and it’s called Al-Anon. Designed for family and friends of alcoholics and anyone who’s been impacted by someone else’s drinking, these 12-step meetings offer self help through mutual understanding and experience. With over 26,000 groups throughout 115 countries, Al-Anon has a history of helping families heal from alcoholism and addiction.
Here are four different ways Al-Anon helps family deal with addiction and alcoholism.
Alcoholism Is a Family Disease
So much of the literature and talk about addiction and alcoholism focus on the individual abusing the substance. It’s the individual who must go to detox, to treatment, to counseling, to meetings. It’s the individual who must change and get better. Yet in reality, that’s not the whole circumstance. Alcoholism is a family disease, and impacts each person in a different way. Al-Anon understands this and lets those who are affected by alcohol abuse, but not the alcoholic, get the support and help they need.
When you live with and love an alcoholic, the world starts to revolve around that person and his or her drinking. This means that the family’s needs are often unmet, because so much focus is placed on the alcoholic. Al-Anon teaches you how to recognize what’s within your control and what’s not. This allows you to change what you can—primarily what you do and how you react—and let go of the rest. By focusing on taking care of yourself and meeting your own needs, you no longer become a victim of the disease.
Perhaps one of the most important things Al-Anon does for families is it helps them to be able to detach with love and bring an end to the cycle of addiction and codependency. When there’s an alcoholic in your life, you learn to use your own self-destructive behaviors to make life easier. You may learn to cover for the drinker, call him or her off work, lie to family and friends, provide alcohol, or make excuses for behaviors. These learned coping mechanisms help you get through the immediate situation, but are detrimental in the long run to both you and the alcoholic. Al-Anon helps you learn the subtle differences between support and enabling and teaches you that you can still love someone, even though you’ve detached from him or her and are letting your loved one face the consequences of alcoholism without you.
No More Blame, Guilt, and Shame
In Al-Anon, there is no judgment. Everyone in the room has loved an alcoholic and been impacted by the disease. Having a place to discuss the impacts of drugs and alcohol without shame, blame, or guilt, lets you move beyond the negative emotions associated with alcoholism and addiction. It allows people to stop constantly reacting to the alcoholic, and instead focus on the alcoholism. When these negative emotions are released, you learn that you can’t control the alcoholic or his or her addiction. You can only control yourself. And your happiness does not have to be based off of whether he or she decides to pick up and drink.
Have you been impacted by alcoholism? Do you or someone you love need help to stop drinking? Contact us today by calling 800-839-1686Who Answers? to find the help you’re seeking. Our addiction specialists can help you or your loved one get started on the path to recovery.