At our sober house in NJ, we understand that the people who often suffer the most from addiction are the families of addicts. Trying to help someone who has a problem with drugs or alcohol can be stressful, difficult and, in some cases, dangerous.
What most people often don’t realize is that they need support too. And that’s where Al-Anon comes in.
What is Al-Anon?
It’s a support group for anyone who has been impacted by someone else’s substance abuse. The aim is to share common issues and put together a strategy for dealing with someone who is an addict and make positive changes.
This is not a religious group but a collection of individuals and family members who come together to share their own experiences and help each other in a spiritual way at regular meetings. It’s about finding the support you most need and using it as a way to cope with another person’s problem with alcohol.
There is an associated support group called Alateen that is aimed at teenagers who have been affected by someone else’s substance abuse.
How to Get Involved
The people who attend Al-Anon meetings will be individuals just like you. They may be spouses, brothers or sisters, children, even friends and employers. You don’t need to have an appointment to attend a meeting and there are normally contacts in many cities and towns across the USA to find out when the next one is.
Why You Need Support
Dealing with an addict, especially when it comes to alcohol, can often be kept as a private affair. People ‘keep it in the family’. They may even lie to other friends and family to keep up the pretense that there is nothing wrong. It’s a behavior that can be counter-productive, however, and lead to isolation, anxiety and health problems.
Many people believe that they are on their own. Some simply don’t want to admit that they require help. The addict can also have an undue influence on the behavior of those around them, especially close family members such as spouses and children. There may be violence involved as well as other behaviors that complicate things.
When you sit down at an Al-Anon meeting, you’ll instantly discover that you are among friends and that you are not alone. These are people from all walks of life who are dealing with the same challenges that you are.
You can go with questions that you would like answered or you can decide to sit back and listen to others at the meetings. At all times, your anonymity is respected and members are not allowed to share stories or details of others in the group.
Holding onto a problem such as addict family member and keeping it to yourself can be stressful and detrimental to your own well-being. Many people who have attended an Al-Anon meeting have found it lifted a weight off their shoulders and provided them with the external support they were looking for. You may even be able to find a few answers and begin to turn a corner.
This group does not pretend to solve your problem but it does give you the tools and inspiration to cope better and move forward positively. If you’d like to find out more, take a look at the Al-Anon website here.
I am the daughter of and sister of alcoholics. My dad passed in 1992 at age 63……I am now 65. I have serious concerns for a sibling. I have attended Al-Anon/Alateen Family Groups (AFG) for over 40 years. AFG is the MOST WONDERFUL group of regular people who are just trying to figure out how to live with these folks we LOVE and who’s illnesses defy logic. These are bright good people, with a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE illness. I consider myself a “lifer”………..i.e., I plan to attend AFG until they plant me! My friendships and the 12-step philosopthy has sustained me through tremendously diffucult times!