In Al‑Anon, I learned her drinking was not my fault…

According to Gallup (10/2019), a third of Americans say that drinking has caused trouble in their family. What many do not realize is that someone else’s drinking doesn’t just cause physical problems for others but can also cause long lasting emotional and behavioral problems. These problems don’t dissipate when the drinker finds sobriety or is no longer present in their lives. Al‑Anon, and Alateen for teens, offer the family members a safe place to figure out how they may have been affected and allow them to discover new ways of living.

In this interview, Lisa, an anonymous Al‑Anon member, shares how her sister’s drinking affected her from a young age and continued to affect her even after her sister passed away from alcoholism in adulthood.

If you’re wondering if Al‑Anon or Alateen could be helpful for you, visit our Newcomers page.  You can find answers to frequently asked questions, take a quiz to see if you could benefit from the program, and find a local or virtual meeting.

DISCLAIMER:  This interview was recorded at the 2018 Al‑Anon International Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Members were asked to share about various aspects of the Al‑Anon program and their personal experience.

Members’ anonymity is protected so that they can share openly and honestly about their experience with a loved one’s drinking and with the Al‑Anon program.

The opinions expressed in this video were strictly those of the person who gave them.

Video Transcript

My recovery helped my relationship with my daughter

INTERVIEWER: We know that one in four Americans has been affected by the family disease of alcoholism. How did your sister’s alcoholism affect you?

LISA: In my case, I certainly thought that somehow I had caused it or contributed to it. But there was something that I had done, and so of course, if there was something I have done, then there must be something I can do to fix it.


LISA: Right. And in my case, though, also my sister, who started drinking when I was around seven.


LISA: She was six years older and she actually told me that she believed that my birth was what led her to have to rely on alcohol and drugs. So I carried with me for a good part of my life, always the thought that somehow in some way I was the root of the disease of alcoholism with my sister. So it affected everything, affected me, the choices that I made. I was never good enough. I was going to be the best at whatever I was going to do, because somehow, if I could do that, I’d make up for the disappointment my parents felt with my sister. And, you know, somehow I was going to fix the situation by being the best. And, you know, you name it. And that failed. She still died of alcoholism. And it continued to affect every decision I made in my life,

INTERVIEWER: Even after she was gone?

LISA: Absolutely after she was gone. Although I would not have known that had it not been for the Al‑Anon program, showing me how the many decisions that I made in my life were at the core a reaction to the family disease of alcoholism.