September National Recovery Month includes opportunities for families and friends of alcoholics to find help and hope in Chicago area Al‑Anon Family Groups. “Sometimes it is easy to see what alcohol is doing to the drinker,” Al-Anon Communications Specialist Mona Dougherty said. “It may be more difficult to see what it is doing to the rest of the family.”
Mary Kay Clarke, Addictions Center Manager for Linden Oaks Behavioral Center at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, said, “We don’t just look at the patient alone. When we’re treating an alcoholic or an addict, we’re not just dealing with one person. We’re dealing with the entire family, because family members get to a point of hopelessness and helplessness. They don’t know what to do, and they don’t feel confident enough to make important decisions until they try Al-Anon.
“Family members don’t know there are other people out there like them, so they feel isolated. After they attend Al-Anon meetings, there’s a sense of palpable relief. They become calm and relaxed, because they’ve been around people who have been through what they are going through. They learn how to detach with love. They get to the point of saying I still love you, but I’m not going to allow this to go on in our home anymore. Al‑Anon is a great support system for them.”
An anonymous Al-Anon member was married for three years before alcoholism came between her and her husband at the expense of their marriage. She said, “I made all the mistakes in the book, like pleading, nagging, threatening, bargaining, crying and trying to fix everything. I compromised and humiliated myself in the process. I knew in my heart the relationship was doomed, but he was a loving and funny and amazing man while sober, so I told myself those moments were worth the pain. And I told myself the biggest lie of all. When he was drinking, I told myself at least I’ve got a man, and I’m not alone. Al-Anon has been the biggest blessing to me. I’m much more confident and I worry less and less about things that used to eat me up inside.”
Al-Anon Family Groups are for families and friends who have been affected by a loved one’s drinking. In Chicago, 82 Al-Anon Family Groups meet every week. Nearly 16,000 groups meet weekly throughout the US, Canada, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. Al-Anon Family Groups meet in more than 130 countries, and Al-Anon literature is available in more than 40 languages.
For more information about Al-Anon Family Groups or Alateen for young people, go to al‑anon.org to view a copy of “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2018” or to listen to a “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” podcast. To find a local meeting, call toll-free: 1-888-4AL-ANON.