Alcoholism, Al-Anon, and How We Can and Cannot Help FAQs
What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is often referred to as a threefold family disease that affects the body, the mind and the spirit. For the drinker, one of the symptoms is an uncontrollable desire for alcohol.
How Can I Help An Alcoholic?
We believe that an alcoholic must reach out for help in order to recover. By adopting the Al-Anon/Alateen program, we can stop trying to change the alcoholic. We learn we cannot change anyone. We do this by turning our attention to ourselves, the only ones we can change.
What Can I Do To Help An Alcoholic Stop Drinking?
By changing our own attitudes we provide a healthier environment for our families and/or circle of friends, including the alcoholic. This may allow the alcoholic to see the problem more clearly and pave the way to recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
How Can I Change My Attitude?
By following the Al-Anon program, its Steps, Traditions, and slogans;
By attempting to understand the family disease of alcoholism and its effects on us;
By attending Al-Anon meetings regularly;
By volunteering our time to Al-Anon service.
What Is Al-Anon?
The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of the families and friends of alcoholics, who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve problems associated with the family disease of alcoholism.
Al-Anon was founded over 50 years ago by families of alcoholics who had found recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, many Al-Anon/Alateen members are finding serenity despite a friend or family member having an active drinking problem or a struggle with sobriety.
In Al-Anon we learn that we are powerless to control an alcoholic’s drinking. Until we stop trying for control, we will continue to live with the frustration that made us seek Al-Anon. Acceptance enables us to progress. Once we learn to let go, the loving concern of the other Al-Anon members will provide strong support.
Does It Cost Money?
No. There are no dues. Al-Anon is supported by voluntary contributions from its members.
Is It Religious?
Al-Anon is not a religious program, and it is not affiliated with any outside entity or religious organization, including any religious organizations that meetings may rent space from. Meetings differ in how they address the spiritual heritage of Al-Anon.
The “Higher Power” of the 12 Steps is open to individual interpretation.
What Are Meetings Like?
Meetings vary considerably. The best way to get a sense of how the meetings work is simply to attend a few different ones.
Should I Serve Alcohol At Home Or Around The Alcoholic?
This is an individual or family matter. It depends on the alcoholic’s preferences. For some, it may seem advisable not to at the beginning of recovery.
Should I Accept Invitations Where Alcohol Is Served?
Each person has a right to make his or her own decision. In Al-Anon we learn how to make good decisions for ourselves only, and to respect the decisions of others.
Should I Stop Drinking?
If it makes any difference to the alcoholic it might be advisable, but this is your personal decision. Some of us learn to enjoy life without drinking and some of us drink socially without negative consequences.
When should I Talk To The Problem Drinker About The Drinking Or Other Issues Affecting Us?
In most cases, this must be “played by ear.” Many have found the alcoholic to be more approachable after a heavy drinking bout. Try to be calm and detached whenever such problems are discussed.
Should I Treat The Problem Drinker In A Special Way?
No. Experience has shown that the more attention paid to the alcoholic behavior, the less the alcoholic takes responsibility for it. Allowing him/her to be responsible for his/her own behavior is difficult, yet beneficial for all.
Will My Troubles Be Over When The Alcoholic Stops Drinking?
Don’t expect too much too soon. Recovery takes a long time, and not all problems, family or work related, are caused by alcoholism. Abstinence from drinking often unmasks other problems which require different responses.
Will I Still Need Al-Anon Even After My Loved One Stops Drinking?
Yes. Just as the alcoholic needs to continue attending meetings, so do his/her loved ones. The disease of alcoholism affects not only the person who drinks, it affects the whole family. The adjustment to sobriety can be aided by our continuing to focus on ourselves and growing in Al-Anon. Many members continue long after the drinking has stopped, or if there is no longer a drinking person in their lives.
Am I Sick Too?
Alcoholism is a family disease. It is good to remember that we are suffering from the effects of another person’s alcoholism, whether in our present life or somewhere in our past.
What New Or Old Responsibilities Can An Alcoholic Take?
Few, unless the alcoholic has sought sobriety. Some alcoholics can assume responsibilities more quickly than others; the abilities of an alcoholic who has achieved sobriety may be limitless for some, while others truly take life one day at a time.
How Can I Help After My Loved One Stops Drinking?
Loving and understanding helps. Recovering from the effects of alcoholism, the family disease, ourselves, often aids in ongoing recovery of others.
What Is A “Dry Drunk”?
When alcoholics, who have not been drinking, get into a state of mind or display behavior previously associated with drinking, they are said to be having a “dry drunk.” It often occurs in early sobriety but is not unusual later in long-term sobriety either.
Are There “Slips” In Al-Anon?
Yes, old reactions are hard to break, and sometimes we unwittingly slip back into old ways of thinking and acting. Keeping in touch with Al-Anon members by means of the telephone, reading Al-Anon literature, and attending meetings helps minimize this behavior.
How Can I Keep My Loved One Away From Drinking Companions?