Not only does the alcoholic need help in addressing their challenges, struggles and illness, but the family also deserves the same opportunity. When the family and the alcoholic receive help through learning, love, and support, it enables everyone to move toward the solution, rather than continue to live in the circular nature of the problem.
Initially, family members talk to us about feeling frustrated, hopeless, and unsure about what to do next. Families who begin attending Al-Anon tell us that this program teaches them how to unhook from the disease. Al-Anon challenges them to see what role they have been playing in the life of the alcoholic. This new understanding changes the dynamics of the relationship that the family members have with themselves and their loved one.
One family member told us that by attending Al-Anon she was learning how to say “No” in a way that honored her and her loved one. The joy we saw on her face when she explained how she practiced setting healthy boundaries was life-changing for her. This was the same family member who told us just one month prior that she was ready to give up.
Al-Anon shows people that the disease of alcoholism is not their fault. Al-Anon meetings provide an environment where they feel heard and supported while coming to terms with how the disease has affected and continues to affect them.
We have heard many family members talk about a new freedom, which includes letting go of the responsibility for the outcomes of the disease and the need to control it. These family members experience forgiveness for themselves and their loved ones.
We strongly recommend Al-Anon because everyone deserves to find peace within themselves. Everyone deserves to make peace with an insidious disease that would have them think it is all their fault and leave them reeling in the question, “What could I have done differently?”
Today, we know it is not their fault. We know there is a solution and that it can be found in the support from others who once faced the same deceptive thinking. This support is available through Al-Anon and the many wonderful people who have found their own freedom.
By Jennifer Kent-Charpentier
Fresh Start Recovery Centre
Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism