Al-Anon is Gentle

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


  1. Cindy June 2018 at 8:40 pm

    My sister and I are 16 months apart, we are 49 and 50, we are the oldest of five. I’ve never typed these words – my sister is an alcoholic, has been for years. She looks old, shakes if she goes too long without a drink, and the white of her eyes have a yellow tint now. She cannot keep a full-time job because by 11:00 am, she is usually perched at the bar in a restaurant where she will sit for hours. She has become unbearable to be around this past year, she becomes defensive and verbally abusive after drinking and no one is immune to her assaults. We’ve (my parents and her new husband) tried to lovingly speak to her when she’s sober but her response has been cursing each of us and then purposely arriving at the next family gathering with a six pack of beer with a sarcastic comment that she wanted to live up to what we’ve accused her of, she then proceeds to drink the entire 6 pack during our visit. I am torn. Much of our family has turned their backs on her. I want to leave her to her demise, too, but I feel so much guilt. I feel helpless and don’t want her to feel alienated. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I need to talk to someone, I’m afraid I’m losing my sister.

  2. Jo'ann T. February 2018 at 2:06 pm

    I’m an adult now who grew up in an alcoholic home. I’ve been attending Al-Anon for a few years and I too like you wondered what on earth was I going to do the 12 steps for. I now know I only start them when I’m ready and at my own pace to access my own recovery from the affects of someone else’s drinking on me. Wow it’s been an amazing journey discovering so much about myself. Giving me the emotional tools to cope with many situations in a kinder gentler way on myself. My recovery has had the ripple effect in my family, work, education and social life, taking me places I hadn’t dreamed of. Give it a go you’ve nothing to loose and everything to gain if you go with an open mind and heart.

  3. Sabrina December 2017 at 9:41 pm

    I am nearly 50 years old. When I was a child my mom drank herself silly and my parents divorced when I was 9. One day, she almost killed me with the car. She knew if she had had the accident in the opposite direction of the way she did go, she would have killed me… that made her stop drinking cold turkey. I was 15 years old then, when she stopped… and I enjoyed her sober until she was 80 and then she passed away in 2015.

    My stepson is now a drug abuser and drinker. He can’t be sober. We did an intervention recently and he chose the path of destruction, and we are all heartbroken. As I watch my 7-year-old mourn the decision his brother made, I am reminded of my 9-year-old self who has NEVER really processed growing up with an alcoholic mom. I guess I need some help.

    When my mom was alive, she warned me about my stepson. She saw something in him and she told me that he was dangerous and not to be trusted. I am not sure what it was that she saw, but I think she may have seen the part of him that was like the part of her that made her an addict… takes one to know one… I am chilled to the bone and I need to go to a meeting to see if there is something there to help me, and my Love and our 7 year-old son to move forward from the fear and the worry and the pain of loving someone so deeply who can’t love themselves.

  4. Rose October 2017 at 11:47 am

    Hi I grew up in an alcoholic home and boy did I think I knew it all. I was so much in denial that I couldn’t see how I had been adversely affected. I came to Al-Anon on my knees, a doormat. I know today how badly affected I was and will always be. However now I have a support system and my life has changed beyond my wildest dreams. No matter what it’s a safe place to talk and listen. I am so very grateful that I found this wonderful programme. I would suggest going to a meeting for six weeks just to see if it’s for you and if not nothing ventured nothing gained.

  5. Julie A. September 2017 at 10:37 pm

    I have an alcoholic mother, my childhood was chaos and my adult life is still showing the consequences. I understand the 12 steps for the alcoholic but I don’t understand the purpose for the child to work the 12 steps. Not criticizing, I am truly curious. I want to start attending meetings I am wondering what that will be like.

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