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How Alanon will Change You If You Love an Alcoholic

Updated on April 27, 2017
Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah has several alcoholic relatives and became active in Al-anon, for families of alcoholics, over 34 years ago, often helping others.

Alanon Will Help You Learn to Take Care of Yourself and Become Physically and Mentally Healthy

You can learn to take care of yourself, once you learn to accept others.  Put the focus on yourself instead of them and everyone will feel better!
You can learn to take care of yourself, once you learn to accept others. Put the focus on yourself instead of them and everyone will feel better! | Source

Changing Your Attitude

Do you love an alcoholic or drug abuser? If so, you are almost certainly going through one of the most difficult experiences anyone will ever have to deal with in life. It doesn't matter if the person is a child, a parent, a spouse or someone unrelated who you care about. It can be so frustrating to watch someone do harm to themselves over and over again ... and nothing you say or do can get them to stop.

If you are in this this situation, you may find a great deal of mental and emotional relief by going to an organization called Al-Anon Family Groups, sometimes simply referred to as Alanon. It is for people who care about alcoholics and drug addicts. I have been a member of this organization for over 35 years and it has changed my life. It might change yours, too.

Be prepared to see your situation from an entirely different perspective. You are going to learn how you can let go of the other person and allow them to deal with the insanity they are creating for themselves.

Instead of focusing on the alcoholics and addicts you love, you will learn to focus on yourself. This is not selfish. If you want to regain peace and happiness, you will be able to commit yourself to making yourself a better, happier person.

If you are a new member to Alanon, the last thing you want to hear is that you may be causing your own unhappiness. We have spent years feeling like a victim. We are convinced the people who are drinking or using drugs are the problem, not us! We tell ourselves that, if only the other person would change, then our life would become perfect.

However, the alcoholics, drug addicts and other toxic people in your life may completely disagree with you. They may be perfectly content with their lives, and they don’t understand why it is causing you so much stress.

We have to accept, eventually, that even if our loved ones do get sober, we are still not guaranteed a happy and problem-free life. There will be other issues that come up. Other people will continue to create chaos for us. Since we cannot prevent the problems that others cause, our best defense is to change the way we look at the situation; in other words, it is our attitudes which have to change, not their behavior.

The Serenity Prayer

Most 12-Step organizations, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon, use the Serenity Prayer as one of the foundations of their program. It is regularly recited at meetings around the world. If you are not familiar with this prayer, it consists of three simple lines. In it we appeal to the God of our understanding to grant us “the power to accept the things I cannot change,” “the courage to change the things I can,” and the “wisdom to know the difference.”

Change is the predominant theme of this prayer. When we ask for the power to know the difference between what we can and cannot change, one thing rapidly becomes evident. We cannot change others. We cannot change their attitudes or their behavior.

The only person whose attitude and behavior you can change is yourself! This prayer is a constant reminder of that fact.

Learn More about Alanon and the 12 Steps

Al-Anons Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions
Al-Anons Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions

As someone who has been a member of Alanon for over 35 years, I have found this book very helpful in learning how to use the program to improve my life. In it, you can learn more about all the 12 Steps and how Al-anon can change your attitude and your life. It has changed the lives of millions of people who love an alcoholic spouse, child, parent or other friend or family member.


Accepting What You Cannot Change

In the first part of the Serenity Prayer, we ask God to grant us the power to accept the things we cannot change. Once you have been in Alanon for a while, you will begin to realize you cannot change other people. If you try, it will only end up making you feel angry, unhappy and resentful. Once you accept you are powerless over other people, you will begin to feel a new freedom. If you are powerless to change them, you also begin to realize that you also have no more responsibility to keep trying. In fact, they may become more responsible once you stop trying to control them.

Create a New Life for Yourself

Once you have reached the point where you realize that you cannot change others, and you don’t have to approve or feel responsible for their actions, you are free to find ways to enjoy your own life. Learn to have fun. Pursue a hobby which has always interested you. Build new friendships. Get exercise. There is a slogan in Alanon which says, “once we got busy, we got healthy.” Now that all your energy is no longer being directed at saving someone else, you can direct it at saving yourself! It truly is life changing!

Acceptance is Not Approval

One problem many people have over the issue of acceptance is that they confuse it with approval. They fear that if they accept the misbehavior of another individual, they are indicating that they approve of their misbehavior. However, acceptance and approval are not the same thing. You may accept that your home has been destroyed in a flood. That does not mean you approve of it! The same is true for the behavior of other members of your family. You can accept that they are alcoholics or drug abusers, without approving of the choices they make. You can also decide to keep peace by keeping your opinions to yourself.


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    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      Al-anon has helped millions of people who have an alcoholic husband, wife, parent or child. We learn to take care of ourselves and let the alcoholics take responsibility for themselves. It's hard at first, but the other members of Al-anon can help you through the tough times.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for sharing this. Many people confuse acceptance and agreement. Once we understand the difference between accepting and approving of addiction and other bad behaviors, we become free to stop nagging our loved ones and trying to change their behavior. We are free to make the most of our own lives, which is a far better use of our time.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      So true, that not arguing is not agreement, nor does knowledge of something mean a person agrees or must incorporate something into their lives. Voted up and will share.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for your kind comments. I, too, hope that others will find Alanon. It really will bring them greater peace and a better life. I'm so glad that you find this great organization!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is an excellent hub! Especially for those who are having to deal with someone close to them who has an addiction problem. I grew up with both of parents being alcoholics and I was an only child. I constantly tried to change them, but it never worked. I found Alanon when I was in my 20's and it helped me understand it was not my fault and there was nothing I could do to help them until they wanted the help. I wish I would have found Alanon much sooner. I applaud you and this hub and I hope this hub finds it's way to someone who needs to read it! Voted up and useful. God bless you! :)