It is a typical day at the practice. I prepare the materials for the substance abuse support group and open the door for clients. They begin sitting down and talking loudly among themselves. Once everyone signs in, I present the following topic: the impact of parental alcoholism and/or other family members’ problem drinking. The loudness subsides, and nobody can hear a pin drop.
The silence and attentiveness of the group members, here and in the past, have led me to continue talking for the past 17 years about the impact of drinking on family members. Through it all, some clients hold back tears; others cannot. No matter how they express their emotions, I can see the unbearable pain in their eyes.
After giving clients an opportunity to express themselves, I discuss solutions for their problems, especially Al‑Anon with all its helpful components (i.e., Sponsorship, the Steps, Traditions, Concepts and the Slogans). I share how the fellowship can aid anyone impacted by someone else’s drinking.
Most importantly, I discuss in detail the program’s gentle approach. Talking about Al‑Anon’s gentleness attracts clients who may otherwise be skeptical about seeking help. At the end of my group sessions, a few clients often ask me for a “Where & When” list of Al‑Anon meetings in the area. Their request warms my heart, and I am reassured, time and again, of the importance of sharing Al‑Anon with those coping with alcohol abuse in friends and/or loved ones.
One day at a time, the various program components provide individuals with tools to decrease—and hopefully heal—the unbearable pain caused by someone else’s drinking. Al‑Anon is one of the most valuable resources available for family and friends of problem drinkers.
Dr. Daniella Jackson, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Researcher