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Alanon 12 Step Recovery for The Family of an Alcoholic

Updated on May 1, 2017
DeborahDian profile image

Deborah has been a member of Al-Anon, an organization for the friends and family of alcoholics and addicts, for over 37 years.

Alcoholism and Addiction Have Destroyed Many Families - Al-anon Can Help You Cope

Alcohol is a temptation which some people cannot withstand. While it slowly sickens the alcoholic, it can also destroy their family relationships.
Alcohol is a temptation which some people cannot withstand. While it slowly sickens the alcoholic, it can also destroy their family relationships. | Source

Al Anon, Alcoholism, and Family Stress

If you have even one alcoholic in your life, Alanon is an organization which may be able to help you learn how to deal with the problems they cause.

If you live with an alcoholic, your life is probably more stressful and chaotic than you would like. However, if you are like many people who try to deal with this problem privately, you have probably developed some coping mechanisms that help you handle the situation fairly well most of the time.

Unfortunately, these coping mechanisms do not always work, Sooner or later there will be certain events or situations which will make matters much worse. The holidays are often one of the triggers which cause alcoholics to drink more and, consequently, their loved ones frequently experience an unbearable level of stress. Other occasions that can trigger the alcoholic to over-indulge may be attending sporting events, going to visit relatives, or almost anything else which makes them want to drink.

As a member of Al-anon for over 35 years, I have heard people share a variety of tragic stories about the alcoholics in their lives. While some alcoholics are daily drinkers, others are binge drinkers or only over-indulge in certain situations.

For many people, special occasions mean spending time with relatives and others who manage to bring out the worst behavior in alcoholics. There are often parties to attend, which may involve generous amounts of alcohol consumption. Money may be short and the stress of gift giving during the holidays or around birthdays and other special events can also cause the drinking to accelerate. While everyone else seems to be enjoying the special occasions, it may seem as if your family is more miserable than ever.

If you feel you have reached your limit and do not know what to do or where to turn, an organization called Al-Anon is there to help you. Al-Anon is for the spouses, children, parents, siblings or friends of an alcoholic. This wonderful organization holds meetings all over the world and the meetings are usually open to anyone who wants to attend. The cost of going to a meeting is also quite low ... typically about a dollar or two. If you cannot even afford that amount, most groups will waive the donation entirely.

At an Al-Anon meeting, you will have the opportunity to talk about your stress and fears with others who have experienced situations very similar to yours. You will also have the chance to hear about coping techniques which seem to help, and to learn about the steps many people have followed to make life easier for them, whether their alcoholic is still drinking or not.

You may want to pick up some of the literature or Alanon books which are available at meetings and on Amazon. The books will help you get through tough times, until you can make it to a meeting. The book below goes into detail about how the 12 Steps help Al-anon members have a better life.

This Book is Invaluable to Most Alanon Members

Al-Anon's Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions
Al-Anon's Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions

This book explains the Alanon program as it takes you through the steps and traditions. Most of the long-time members of Alanon I know keep a copy of it handy. The program can seem a little over-whelming at first, but the more you read the Alanon books and go to meeting, the more it will make sense to you. Eventually, it can change your life!


What to Expect at an Al Anon Meeting

Many people are nervous about attending their first meeting because they do not know what to expect. Especially if you are attending a meeting in your neighborhood, or if you live in a small town, you may worry about what other people will think.

Alanon members all have the same fears and concerns. Because of this, they stress that Alanon is a program of anonymity. They ask people not tell any outsiders anything at all about who they have seen at the meetings or what has been said there. The vast majority of people honor this code.

In addition, no one is going to force you to talk if you do not want to. It is perfectly OK to go to a meeting and simply listen to what other people have to say. Many of us find great comfort in just listening. Eventually you will probably want to get more involved in the program, but you can take your time and wait until you feel ready. "Take it easy" is actually an Alanon slogan!

One way we learn to cope with the frustration our alcoholics have caused is to learn to recite the Serenity Prayer. Here are the words:

God, Grant Me the Serenity

To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

The Courage to Change the Things I Can

And the Wisdom to Know the Difference.

This prayer has helped many of us survive difficult times in our relationship with an alcoholic.

More than anything else, you will learn in Alanon that you are not alone. Millions of other people are suffering because they love an alcoholic or addicted spouse, child or parent. There is no shame in having someone with these problems in your family. You can continue to love them and have a good life yourself, despite the problems, especially if you use the skills taught in the Alanon program.

Want to anonymously share about the difficulties you have experienced with an alcoholic?

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    • DeborahDian profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Carr 

      3 years ago from Orange County, California

      Some many people suffer in silence because they love an alcoholic. This information will help them find help.

    • tazzytamar profile image


      4 years ago from chichester

      Wonderful information for any person going through such an awful time in their life. God bless.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      4 years ago

      Passing on this valuable information, in hopes of a friend taking that first step. Thank you!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I really liked this lens, thank for posting it! It has a lot of good information and was really helpful.

    • DeborahDian profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Carr 

      5 years ago from Orange County, California

      @sukkran trichy: Thank you for reading and commenting on my article. People who drink too much cause problems for many people, not just themselves.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      study has shown that there is the prevalence of too much drinking among people who encounter self-harm ideation as well as behavior, the hardness which also widens with the alcohol using. great topic and well presented lens.

    • DeborahDian profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Carr 

      5 years ago from Orange County, California

      @WriterJanis2: Thank you. So many people live with alcoholics, and the problem often gets more extreme during the holidays. Al Anon has helped many people learn to live happy lives despite the alcoholics who create chaos all around them.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      5 years ago

      Your lens is so inspirational.


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