Al-Anon helps during the holidays

Janie, Ernie, and Frances, all active Al-Anon members are with us today to talk about how Al-Anon helped them deal with drinking during the holidays.

How to locate a meeting

“First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.


  1. Anthony November 2014 at 11:09 am

    The holidays are a strange time for me. I grew up with an alcoholic mother who went all out for the holidays, spent money we did not have, cooked more food than we could eat and played Christmas music all the time. She was usually pretty drunk all the time as well.

    I always got suckered into her disease when she was in the holiday mood, and then out of nowhere her drunken rage would find its way to ruin everything, as always. So most of the time the holidays were a time waiting for the other shoe to drop and finding ways to stay out of her way, yet I had no choice but be available when she called my name. It was living a Rockwell Christmas card hell (everyone was expected to act out their part).

    Today my mother is dead. I am invited to my alcoholic spouse’s in-laws for the holidays, and it’s the same insanity and I still don’t like it. We drive 4 hours, arrive to eat or drink and then after about 30 minutes the craziness starts–with talk about this person and that person being the problem, but never them. They cannot go for long without alcohol.

    I can see the change that occurs in them when they drink. At first they are sweet, then sour. I just take a walk to get away–that’s when they get my spouse into their drama. That’s how I become an outsider to their drama.

    I am grateful to Al-Anon today for showing me I can live with active drinkers and still be happy. I worry about my sanity. I focus on me. I listen to the Al-Anon podcasts, go to open Al-Anon or open A.A. meetings nearby. My spouse is a foster child to these people and recently out of 30-day rehab, and none of the family or friends would go to Al-Anon when it was suggested they should, to support my spouse.

    So, of course, no one knows what to do in front of my spouse. So they don’t ask–they just drink. I worry about my spouse slipping because temptation is everywhere and this family is more likely to give my spouse a drink than not. But I have to worry about myself, my recovery–for today. One day at a time.

  2. Ellen November 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful podcast. I like the concept of “not leaving myself.”

  3. Glenn July 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Thanks for the podcast. Despite many years in the program I slip back very quickly. I am writing this in the early a.m. from in-laws (none in recovery) after a sleepless night. Here for a celebration, but it is easy to get sidetracked into resentment and obsessing…the podcast helps.

  4. Kris April 2011 at 1:16 pm

    My mother-in-law and father-in-law are both alcoholics but have not gotten any help. They do not believe there is a problem. My husband has expressed his concern and that whenever they are drinking they can get beligerent and say things that are insulting about our parenting skills. We have 3 young children and are feeling that it may be best to stay home for the holidays, as their drinking causes undue stress for both of us. I have not attended a meeting yet. I am just starting to begin my search for help.

  5. Norma L January 2011 at 10:02 am

    I feel just like the people in this podcast; I anticipate the disappointment of drinking, drugging or a family fight way before the holiday has arrived. I lived in an alcoholic family and live with an alcoholic husband today. Although he has 15 months of sobriety, it recently came to light, that his behaviors have not changed, more importantly, nor mine. I strive to be happy and my hope is that in 2011, I can change enough to honestly say I am happy.

  6. Garry H December 2010 at 2:37 pm

    For what I now recognize as a cycle spanning many years and many holidays, various members of my family have born the brunt of nasty behaviour that sprang like a slap in the face across a holiday table. Only with the insights of another distant cousin, familiar with Al-Anon and alcoholism in her own family, and now with what I’ve begun to study here, have I come to the important realization that the root of the problem is indeed alcoholism and not principally some deficiency in character.

    Now I’m faced with dealing with the real “truth,” which I know in God’s power and grace “can set us free.” The most captive of the victims of this addition isn’t me, however, so my “freedom” and need to be truthful has already encountered some significant resistance – despite my hopes for the holidays.

    Thank you all who are contributing to these pages and this forum, for although I am yet to attend my first Al-Anon meeting, I already get a sense of the real wholesomeness and health and support that working with others who deeply care for others can provide.
    May all of us be blessed with unexpected grace, joy, and healing during this season with our loved ones.

  7. Heddy December 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I have been sober for 23 years; my daughter for 12 years; my son for 6. We have a pretty functional life together. I have had to rely on Al-Anon principles through the years to help navigate the powerlessness that is our reality when it comes to the behavior of others. So far, so good.

    As my husband and I traveled to my parents home this Christmas, we knew we were entering family in crisis. My youngest brother and his wife are separated because of alcohol. He was there with his two children – a five-year-old who seems to be hanging in there and a 22-month-old girl who is clingy and whining in her suffering.

    I am MAD. I have little patience with big people who refuse to see the effect of their choices on others. My brother is sober and trying; his wife is indifferent although not innocent – she is an overdrinker too. I am in search of a meeting and sponsor who can help me quiet my over-active mind and surrender to powerlessness, no matter how big my rescuing spirit gets over those kids.

    I rely on a kind God to keep me sober every day. I need to learn how to let Him help me stay emotionally centered too.

  8. Joe T December 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I really appreciated the shared comments. There is a lot of addiction in our family system and the holidays can be difficult in that anxiety levels increase and a lot of “stuff” just flies around. Al-Anon helps keep me centered and allows me to set boundaries without guilt and shame.

  9. Judy, NM December 2010 at 1:29 am

    The tools for living I get from Al-Anon were life-savers for me this past Thanksgiving. Leading up to the holiday, I was becoming anxious about the possibilities of many things going wrong. When I shared with my group and with my sponsor, they reminded me that I have the right to communicate my concerns with kindness and that there is the same probability that things will go right as there are that they may go wrong.

    I forget to think about what might go right. Before we arrived for the holiday, I spoke to my husband, an active drinker, about my concerns for the opportunities for arguments with relatives. Later, I spoke with my son and his wife about our “plan B” if my husband became drunk and difficult. Best of all, we all planned fun things to do like play tennis and go to a high school football game. I prayed to “look for the joy” in each day and focus on what was going right. When the holiday was over, I can say I found lots of joy in each day and with each cherished family member. I came home with an attitude of gratitude.

  10. Marci W December 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I wanted to say that I agree with Ernie in respect to my Al-Anon family. I feel so lost without them now. I once had a great relationship with some wonderful people in my home group. I recently moved far away from my home group and am so lost without Al-Anon. I hope that I can make those kinds of connections where I am at now. My Al-Anon family is very special. It keeps me grounded and gives me the serenity I have sought for so long.

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