The Secret

As I walked into my first meeting my mind screamed with the question—What’s the secret to get my son to stop drinking and using? I had tried everything—counseling, rehab, psychiatry, new schools, and new cars. Nothing worked. He was destroying himself, and I was powerless to stop him. I felt I had to find the secret. Al‑Anon members were the nicest people I’d ever met, but they wouldn’t tell me the secret. They just smiled and said, “Keep Coming Back.” I did go back, and I felt a little better after each meeting.

I learned to lower my expectations and to stop accepting responsibility for my son’s decisions. I learned that detaching with love does not mean abandoning. I learned to respond, rather than react. I learned I could become part of this worldwide fellowship that offers support when my work takes me from city to city. It took time to weave these lessons into the fabric of my life. Eventually, I realized I had been asking the wrong question. Instead of asking How can I get my son to stop drinking and using? the question was How can I find peace in the face of my son’s self-destructive behavior? I realize that the members had given me the secret that first night, but I hadn’t understood it. The secret for me was to “Keep Coming Back.”

By Don B., Ohio

The Forum, August 2018

2018-07-31T14:57:05+00:00July 31, 2018|Categories: Alcoholic Child, The Forum|


  1. Missy September 2018 at 7:23 pm

    I will be attending my first meeting tomorrow night. I have already gained encouragement by reading your comments, thank you.

  2. Bobbie September 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I am living in fear today. And I have gone to meetings. Which helps. The 3 ‘s. Yes. The fear will change if I keep doing what I need to do

  3. Anonymous September 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Go to meeting, read literature and connect with your higher power, all takes time

  4. Maria S. August 2018 at 8:42 am

    I have been in Al-Anon for 5 years and have finally come to realize that “I cannot change anyone but myself.” My son has been struggling from bi-polar and addiction for 27 years. He has put our family thru hell but we still love him but will not fix his messes anymore. My HP has given me the strength and knowledge to accept this.
    I attend 2 meetings a week, have been a GR and am now a Chairperson for Institutions. I have a sponsor. I am working my program. It has helped me in ALL areas of my life.
    Keep coming back!

  5. Anonymous August 2018 at 12:17 pm

    The serenity prayer helps me to find peace.

  6. Darlene H. August 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I think my daughter has started drinking again. I don’t know if I should confront her.

  7. Roy A. August 2018 at 6:12 am

    We are powerless, but not helpless, in the face of another’s self-destructive behaviour. The sooner I realize this at a heart level rather than a head level, the sooner I can begin to make progress. Detachment is big for me–detachment from the problem but still loving the person.

  8. Kathi G August 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I have a son that has been drinking/using for 18 yrs. He was the last thing on my mind at night and the first thing on my mind in the morning. I started attending Al-Anon meetings 10 yrs ago and I have found peace. How??? I stopped taking responsibility for HIS drinking/using. I detached from his situation but not from him and I kept repeating the 3 C’s … I didn’t CAUSE it, I can’t CONTROL it and I can’t CURE it. When that light bulb FINALLY went on I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted. Have I had setbacks? Absolutely! The trick to peace? Keep coming back. Every meeting is ended with “Keep coming back, it works if you work it, and WE’RE WORTH IT” and we are. Each and every one of us dealing with this are worth taking care of and finding peace. Good luck to you and keep getting to those meetings.

  9. Chris Z. August 2018 at 12:58 pm

    Besides the ‘keep coming back’, I have found it immensely helpful to pray for our loved ones. Also meditation is also a great gift. HP is always there for you…..

  10. Linda August 2018 at 12:28 pm

    That is a feeling I know and understand all too well. Al-Anon meetings are a wonderful place to learn how to find peace. It seems impossible while you have a child in so much trouble, but serenity is possible.

  11. Charles N August 2018 at 11:09 am

    I am going to a counseling session later today with my wife and two daughters. We all attend twelve step meetings and recently my 48 year old son reached out to us to “rejoin” the family. He has survived over 30 years of addictive behavior and today we will discuss together how to use the programs we have to help ourselves and just maybe, him too. It can seem that despair is easier to accept than hope when hope is dashed over and over again. I try to stay balanced and choose the hope for myself rather than the struggling alcoholic/addict. And I do believe that miracles can happen.

  12. Katherine B. August 2018 at 11:40 pm

    I feel so powerless with my sons self destructive behavior.
    How can I find peace?

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