This Too Shall Pass
by Emma Mogg
Alcoholism can be a devastating disease not just for the drinker, but for their family and friends as well. Emma Mogg tells us how Al-Anon can help
The focus of problem drinking is usually the drinker themselves, but for every person with a drink problem, at least five of their close family and friends live with the often-unseen impacts of their alcoholism, which can be devastating.
Al-Anon Family Groups UK & Eire, which came to the UK from America in 1951, encourages those living with problem drinkers to find their local Al-Anon meetings, which run weekly across Sussex.
Peter* from East Grinstead explains, “My ex-wife changed when drinking, outwardly angry, aggressive and destructive – I thought she was just depressed and I could make her better by doing things for her, this focus on her progressed to unmanageable levels. My current partner was very different when drinking; she was quiet, withdrawn if anything – the chaos was on the inside, but try as I did I couldn’t find a way of fixing her either.
My partner went into rehab, relapsed and attempted suicide a couple of times which was a huge reality check for me. I accepted she had to find her own way through this, thankfully today she is almost 3 years sober but her sobriety did not make me better; I had all the same fear and control issues but with no one to blame. Thankfully, through her I learnt about Al-Anon, a group that supports family members of alcoholics.”
Al-Anon Family Groups offers a programme of recovery in over 130 countries; there are over 780 support groups in the UK and Eire. By attending Al-Anon Family Group meetings, individuals discover that they didn’t cause the problem, and cannot control or cure it.
They also learn how best to cope with their situation by switching their focus from the alcoholic to themselves.
Peter* goes on to say, “Al-Anon helps me realise I am programmed to try to fix and control. My illness can fool me into denying the reality of a situation and tell me that I have power over things. In Al-Anon I can talk through my feelings with people who have the same experience, I can see the strength and hope in them. The more I work on myself through Al-Anon meetings… the better I feel. I have learnt to let go of the fear and find a sort of peace.”
Anna* is another person grateful to have found Al-Anon. Her father was a loving dad but couldn’t cope with his anxiety. He turned to alcohol but it lead to addiction. His alcoholism caused him to lose his business, family and ultimately his home, turning a loving father into a homeless man. “My father missed my wedding and the birth of my children through alcoholism. For years I fought against the disease to try and save him, but I was powerless. With Al-Anon’s help I found others who had also been affected by alcoholism and understood how I felt. I slowly began to regain myself from the chaos of my Dad’s disease.”
And for younger people of 12-17 who have been affected by alcoholism there is Alateen. If there is no local Alateen meeting, youngsters over 12 are welcome to attend an Al-Anon Family Group meeting. For further information about Alateen meetings please contact the General Service office on 020 7593 2070.