I Thought I Knew Everything

The crushing pain of watching our son spiral downward in his alcoholism and addiction became too much to endure. My wife and I had done all we could—detox, rehab, counseling, psychiatric care, new schools, new cars, yet the cycle of recovery and relapse continued.

The situation deteriorated to the point that I feared for his life. I thought I knew everything because I was a licensed physician. I administered narcotics and sedatives every day. Despite all the academic degrees, specialty certifications and licenses I possessed, I was an abject failure. I could resuscitate overdose victims, but I could not save my boy.

In desperation, I found my way to Al‑Anon on a late summer day. The parking lot’s sticky asphalt tugged at my shoes. My inner voice said, Don’t go in there; you don’t need this. You’re a grown man, a husband, a father and a doctor. You might meet someone you know—your reputation will be shot.

But I continued on to the meeting, the beginning of what would become a lifelong journey of self-discovery. I was met by a gentle lady who said, “We’ve all been through what you are going through.” Others said, “You’re in the right place,” and “You can find serenity here.” I didn’t believe them.

But I kept coming back, even after our beloved son was claimed by this hideous disease. As I approach my 70th birthday, I still come back twice a week to be strengthened by stories of trial and growth and of new insights, stories of learning new ways of living, even in the face of a loved one’s continued drinking and using. I “Keep Coming Back” because I can hold out a hand to those who still suffer, those who cross sticky parking lots or trudge through snow and ice as desperate for help as I was.

I “Keep Coming Back” because what I’ve learned here has helped me become a grateful, even joyful man. Today I am a man at peace, rather than the man consumed with rage and resentment I would have been without the help of Al‑Anon.

By Don B., Ohio

The Forum, February 2018

2018-02-02T14:49:42+00:00 January 31, 2018|Categories: Alcoholic Child, The Forum|


  1. Star of the North February 2018 at 8:59 am

    I am an alcohol and drug counselor who seeks recovery in my family and daily life. I have witnessed sobriety and contentment in my life with my loved ones in sobriety. I have been a member of Al-Anon for over 20 years and I see miracles every day of my life. The program like any other works if you work it. I also am a adult child of an alcoholic family and have lived in this disease of alcoholism all my life growing up as well. I call myself a survivor of this disease. I may not follow my program perfectly but I always have the family of Al-Anon around me for support and love when I need it most. I challenge everyone today to reach out to your loved ones who are suffering from this disease of addiction and tell them that you love them and that they are a loving child of God and that you are proud of who they are today, weather they are sober or not. Take a risk and reach out.

  2. Fred February 2018 at 3:05 pm

    how to talk to a 27 year old recovering (2years sober) granddaughter about attending meetings.

  3. Eleni February 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Ellen C February 2018 at 7:10 pm

    I too am a medical professional. I taught a drug and alcohol program where I worked. I have suffered the loss of my husband and my son. My youngest son is an alcoholic. I didn’t realize it until my husband died. Then my son died and my youngest went out of control. He has been in rehab and one detox program. I talk to him everyday, but he doesn’t have a relationship with his sisters. I don’t know if he is drinking now. He seems ok when I speak to him. I am worried about him but realize only he can fix this.

  5. Tamara February 2018 at 9:13 am

    My husband and I are parents of a son that is an addict. My heart goes out to you as I have spent many sleepless nights and felt the terror of not knowing how to help our son. Although I still consider myself a newbie at Al-Anon, I have received so much comfort and companionship in our common bond at meetings. I strongly encourage you to find an Al-Anon Parent’s meeting in your area. You can’t fix your child’s addiction, but you must take care of yourself. We can feel so alone but Al-Anon brings hope and light back into our lives, regardless of what is going on with our child. I share in your pain and hope and pray for healing for your son and for you.

  6. Dawn February 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I can relate to both the post and the comment. I am a nurse and my 24 year old son is addicted to alcohol. He thinks he can quit on his own! (How many addicts think the same thing?). The worst part for me is that he lives 2 hours away.

  7. Max D. January 2018 at 3:02 pm

    I have a similar situation. I am also a retired medical professional. I help so many of my patients with solid counseling advice. And those that were habitual abusers I learned to turn away. But, this is my own son with drugs and alcohol problems. And I feels so helpless! So, confused I could cry.

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