Is Al-Anon Helpful?
March 17, 2021
Alcoholism does not only affect the people who are addicted to alcohol. Their condition also takes a toll on their family members, especially those who live under the same roof. People with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) tend to have sour relationships with their families. They interact with each other in unpleasant ways, sometimes even turning into verbal abuse and physical violence. This translates to a lot of stress, fear, and worry for their families.
The worst part is people struggling with alcohol problems often downplay or outright deny that they have a drinking problem. That makes it really hard for family members to get them to seek help. They want to keep on drinking even if it’s become harmful to them and their families.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you know how hard it is to cope. Your home, instead of being a haven, has become a prison. You feel trapped by your loved ones’ damaging behaviors.
But don’t lose hope. You can find support through an organization called Al-Anon. Here, you will get together with other families of people with AUD and help each other.
Read on if you’d like to know more about how you can benefit from Al-Anon.
What is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon is a group that grew out of the well-known Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Al-Anon was founded in 1951 by the wife of AA’s founder. She was living with a husband who was suffering from alcoholism. With that, she established Al-Anon to help other families of recovering people with AUD.
Similar to AA, Al-Anon follows the so-called “12 steps” to recovery. These are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore our sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
You can join Al-Anon by yourself
The good news is you don’t have to bring along your loved ones with alcohol problems. You can attend Al-Anon meetings on your own.
After all, the meetings are designed to help you, not your loved ones. So, don’t expect to be brainstorming ways to get your loved one to stop drinking. That’s not the point of Al-Anon.
Instead, the meetings will focus on how your loved ones’ drinking problems have affected you. You and your fellow members will share your stories, then you can help each other by asking questions.
Al-Anon meetings can help restore broken trust
More often than not, you find it hard to trust your loved ones with alcohol problems. One day, they may say they won’t touch a bottle of booze, but later that day, you find out that they just popped a few open. If this kind of behavior continues, soon enough, you’d no longer have faith in their words.
This distrust also affects the people with AUD. When they sense that you don’t trust them, they will only spiral further into addiction. They will turn to more alcohol to numb the negative emotions they feel.
But if you attend Al-Anon, you will learn how to slowly break that trust barrier. You’ll learn how to properly communicate with your loved ones. Later on, they will feel more comfortable opening up to you, and you will feel a lot safer having a conversation with them.
You’ll learn how to eliminate codependency
Sometimes, you may unknowingly feed your loved ones’ addictions. Alcohol addicts may turn to manipulative behavior or abuse just to keep on drinking. And if you just want to make them happy, you often have no recourse but to give them money, accommodation, and their other needs, even if they don’t make an effort to change their actions.
These are called enabling behaviors, and they only serve to lock the person into their addictions. You may feel that you’re saving them from trouble, but the truth is they won’t get any better.
If this cycle keeps going, you and your loved one have become codependent. Left unchecked, codependency can lead you to develop an addiction of your own. For example, you could become unhealthily obsessed with shielding your loved ones from the consequences of their actions. Or, you could get off on the feeling of being needed by them.
Those can turn into behavioral addictions, and they can be as bad as alcoholism itself.
In Al-Anon, you’ll also learn how to remove enabling and codependent behavior. That way, you won’t become the unintentional barrier to your loved ones’ journeys to recovery.
You get to understand what your loved ones with substance abuse problems are going through
Often, it’s easy to keep blaming your loved ones for being in the situation they’re in. With this kind of attitude, most of your interactions will end up being unpleasant, or worse, hostile.
But if you have a better understanding of what drove them into alcohol addiction in the first place, you could treat them with more compassion. That’s one thing that Al-Anon can help you with.
You’ll get to know the root causes of alcohol addiction. Also, if they’re in treatment, you would learn how to be an asset to their recovery.