These groups have but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. They do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.
Much damage is usually done to those who are closest to the addict. Over time many of these relationships can heal—and peace will replace strife.
Often the addict has manipulated the minds of those close to them, like parents or a spouse, in order to shift the blame. This is done subtly over time and many parents/spouses can begin to think that maybe they are at least partially to blame for their loved one’s addiction. This is both sad—and definitely not true. The addict uses this to his advantage. It's so much easier than taking personal responsibility (which, by the way is the only hope for alcoholic/addicts recovery).
The message to the family is that you didn’t cause the addiction; you can’t cure it or control it. There are however, many things you can do to help the addict to want recovery. At the same time, there are many things you can stop doing that won’t work and are counter-productive. Family members learn that ANYONE can quit if they want to badly enough.
Throughout our years of education, most of us have not had the opportunity to study this in school (not yet anyway) . . . so how is the family going to get the knowledge they need to survive? Books are a start, but talking to others who are in the same shoes seems to work much better. These organizations—similar to AA, are made up of "combat veterans" —men and women who have lived through this themselves and found ways to enjoy life. The walls of these rooms are filled with those who need to “give back” and help others find their way. Whether the person you are concerned with chooses to quit their use or not, Al-Anon will guide you to discover how to rise above the chaos and take control of your life—regardless of whether your addict chooses to quit or not.
“When you can't solve the problem, manage it.”What the family will begin to realize is that the addict’s brain is different. Some people like an occasional drink or two. For others though, it is similar to a love affair or a bad marriage. Why do some people stay in a really bad marriage? God only knows, but at some point we must get rid of the “why question” and make changes. How and why the addiction may have gotten started can be anyone’s guess. The better question is how do we deal with it now that it’s here? Why should you confront this problem earlier rather than later? It’s a well-known fact that chemical dependency gets worse over time.
– Robert H. Schuller
It’s a topic that is hard to bring up unless you feel you won’t be rejected. It’s a problem that is just very hard to understand. These 12-step groups shed light on it in a truly unique and effective way.
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