I came to Al‑Anon because I had an alcoholic child. I felt miserable because my child was in trouble and frustrated because I couldn’t seem to do anything about it. I also felt angry that he lied and took advantage of me. As a father, I saw myself as the fixer. I provided wisdom, guidance, and advice—lots and lots of advice. I minimized problems with humor, provided money, and showed disapproval. The effect of my actions put roadblocks in his path to recovery because they gave him no room to breathe, no opportunity to help himself and rebuild his self-esteem. Every time he turned around, I was there to help, or so I thought, by offering what I felt was a better way. We always had long phone chats, which used to consist of him telling me his problems and me giving him advice because I knew that, if he would just listen, all would be well. In truth, my advice, money, and disapproval did nothing but injure him. In effect, I was telling him that he did not have the skills necessary to make his own decisions. I was demeaning him, not helping him.
However, by using the tools I learned at Al‑Anon meetings, I changed the nature of our conversations. Instead of giving advice, I gave empathy. Instead of telling him what to do, I told him I was sorry to hear about his latest problem and let him solve it for himself. Then a remarkable thing happened. After several weeks of these conversations, he said to me “You know, I really enjoy these talks we’ve been having lately; they mean a lot to me.” At around the same time, he began his own program of recovery.
My new approach did not cause him to recover or even help him to recover, but it did remove some obstacles that I had been putting in his way. In essence, my script had changed, and therefore, our relationship changed. Through this program, I learned that, if I take care of myself and treat myself with respect, then I will be in a better position to help my son in a way that acknowledges that there is a real person, a loving person, inside my alcoholic son. I finally realized that he is an adult and, therefore, has the right to solve his own problems and to live his own life. As a result, in addition to being my son, he once again became a very close and dear friend.
By Frank V., New York
The Forum, March 2019
For everyone who reads this that is affected by addition of loved one, I pray for you every day. I don’t pray for your loved one’s recovery, but that God’s will be done in your life and theirs. I attended Al-Anon meetings for many years and it took me a long time to realize I needed recovery as much as my son; I needed and still need from addiction to self. Believing I or anyone has the answers to dilemmas bigger than we are is a frightening place to be. My son is currently in recovery, but like all of… Read more »
At this time many Al-Anon and Alateen groups have chosen to or been asked to suspend meeting as part of public health initiatives aimed at curbing the spread of COVID 19 (the novel corona virus) in our communities.
An alternative to local meetings are electronic meetings. These include online and phone meetings. Information can be found at: https://bit.ly/2INCSla
My son has been an alcoholic for probably 5 years. He blames his drinking on everyone else and doesn’t take any responsibility for his actions or their end result. At this point, dealing with him has left me with worsening health and depression and fear of losing my own job. I see a counselor and my manager suggested Al-Anon but of course now there are no meeting due to Covid 19. He has been in detox about 7 times now but says that they know nothing. At this point, I think I am finally thinking about me. I need to… Read more »
I am just about at the end of my rope with my situation. My son 33 and his girlfriend 37 live in my house with their almost 2 yr old baby. I have tried to talk to them till I’m blue in the face about the drinking situation and how this is effecting their baby. I worry about her every day. I recently told them they had to find their own place and that the living situation is not working for any of us… but I am afraid that when they move out, I will not be able to keep… Read more »
We own a bar and grill for 5 years now. My husband has been an alcoholic since I met him 27 years ago. 1st for fun drinking, then pain for bad hip n knee. Both of which were fixed this last year. Still hitting the bottle with buddies at our bar and grill!! I am just losing interest in my husband completely. I have horrible medical issues which make me feel stuck, because I can’t afford to take care of myself or I would leave!! I am so blind!! I grew up with an alcoholic stepfather and mother who was… Read more »
For the first time I just watched my 30 year old daughter fall down drunk in her own urine. I saw her slowly become drunk before this the first evening we got here. She talked in her drunken stupor till after 4am. We came from out of state to visit for Thanksgiving . She & husband drank too much tonight & had a long terrible fight with cursing & yelling. It was absolutely terrible to hear & see. It breaks my heart to see my daughter this way. She is so angry, disgusted & miserable with her marriage & other… Read more »
My daughter is 37 years old beautiful, intelligent mother of 3 handsome boys ages 15, 11, 8 sweet boys. Is been a real journey since she was 15. I feel hopeless looking at my daughter using alcohol and drown in drugs as we both lost everything. Now she was transferred from jail to another rehabilitation program. I don’t know what else to do as I take care of her children. I see myself in your words and your journey. I am so broken looking at my baby and where she is at in her life. I had kept myself very… Read more »
Very insightful. Thanks for sharing this.
I don’t know what to do. I have a 25 yr old daughter that lives with me that is an alcoholic along with using the now legal dope they smoke. She’s lost a job she loved and excelled at a month ago. We are on this never ending cycle of drunken nights. I don’t know what to do. She has talked about going to a detox and rehab that I of course have taken loan against my 401k so that she can go , but she still hasn’t taken the steps to do. I can’t keep living this way but… Read more »
This touched me. I spent this past Christmas sitting beside the hospital bed of my almost 40-year-old son who had been put into a semi-comatose state because this time as he went through de-tox, his body strongly reacted and he could have died. For the previous ten years, my husband and I had been consumed and our lives all but destroyed trying to “help” our alcoholic son. Nothing good, of course, had been accomplished. But this last Christmas I didn’t have my husband to lean on through yet another crisis with our son. My husband had died the November before.… Read more »
I am currently in this cycle with my son. I live out of state and am in town visiting. After a night of alcohol induced rage, the old feeling of dread and fear overcome. I am scared as he threatens to just end it. I have a phone conversation with him, a day later, standing firm, telling him thang he has placed these obstacles and he has to remove them. I will be there for support but not financially. I will meet with him this evening for a final dinner before my departure. I will find a meeting close to… Read more »
I don’t know where to begin. I have a 32 year old alcoholic daughter. She’s beautiful, smart, has a great job. She’ll be losing the job this week, just as she has every other great job she’s had in the past. Haven’t seen my daughter in a week. A few texts here and there. Latest was telling me she was in a hotel, somewhere. The tears flow. My heart breaks. She says she’ll have someone take her to the ER ( for the 100th time ) but then says no, they don’t help anyhow. I told her she wants them… Read more »
Thank you–I needed to read this and plan to attend my first meeting. I have an adult child who is in denial about her alcohol abuse. She lives in another state, and I often hear from her (text/phone calls) after she has been drinking. It’s very painful for me to see that she has made the choice to let alcohol cloud her vision and put on her a path of potential destruction. We’ve had many conversations about this, and she tells me what she wants me to hear, and then repeats the cycle. I do not drink, but alcoholism runs… Read more »
It really is amazing what detachment can do! I’ve seen similar growth in my son since I have learned to Let Go and Let God. It is natural for parents help their kids, we just took it too far! Breathing space allows growth. Thanks for your share!
Thank you, those are the words I needed to read today.
All we hear from our very alcoholic son is lies. He is a master manipulator and knows exactly how to get what he wants from us. He is a constant victim. His drinking is everyone’s fault but his own, even his own little kids. Thank God above that he does not have custody. He becomes very mean and seems to actually take pleasure in hurting us. I simply cannot endure this any longer. We are tired. He tells us how horrible we are but he always comes back here. He has nowhere else to go. We have had him hospitalized,… Read more »
This is just what I needed to read today!!! My Higher Power is answering my desperate prayers today and showing up through this message!! I have loved telling people a response I have heard in Al-Anon — “I love you, I will pray for you, and you are the best person to figure this out (or to deal with this issue).” Reading this post has revealed to me that I have shared this with others, but I haven’t been using it myself. I love hearing how you have implemented this and what a gift it has been for you and… Read more »
Yes, being a shoulder to lean on, intense listening, encouragement of them being able to figure it out, all great tools to be revisited and used for a change in a discussion. Thank You.
I am finally able to get out of the way with my husband sometimes 🙂 and things are getting lighter and more enjoyable between us.
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