One of the hardest parts of loving someone who suffers from addiction is loving someone who suffers from addiction. It is isolating, confusing, frustrating, and often feels pretty one sided. The struggle comes from the fact that we plainly see and deeply know how amazing our person is, and when they are sober they are the person we know them to be. Those windows of clarity make everything seem worthwhile for us. Most likely, our friends and family are sick of us being hurt, and this is what leads to the isolation. There is a program called Al-Anon that was created for people like us, and its aim is to not only help us understand addiction but to see our own role in the whole process.

History of Al-Anon

If you are familiar with the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, you might be aware that it’s founder, Bill Wilson, had a wife throughout his entire drinking and sober career. Her name was Lois Wilson, and she was a truly amazing woman. She loved her husband through his multiple trips to the insane asylum, through his decades-long struggle with alcohol, and through the darkest and lowest spots of his life. But she loved him through it, and once he founded the program of AA, she set out to create a program for the people who loved alcoholics and addicts.

16 years after the founding of AA, Lois and friend Anne B created the fellowship as a way for the wives, relatives, and friends of AA’s to improve their lives by applying the spiritual principles of AA.

In the early days, when AA’s were attending their meetings, their loved ones often waited in their cars. Soon enough, they started to hold their own meetings to discuss their own common problems. The main goal of Al-Anon was not to give advice or to pass judgment on their loved ones but to share their experiences with other, as a source of strength and camaraderie.

Much like AA and NA for alcoholics and addicts, Al-anon provided members with a specialized fellowship who understood the minute intricacies of loving someone who suffered from addiction. They could discuss the struggles they endured, the triumphs they shared with their loved ones, and they could feel a part of something, rather than ostracized by their neighbors.

Today, what started as a few small, localized groups, has grown into a huge fellowship, with specialties dedicated to all varieties of the household. There is now Alateen, which is focused towards the children of alcoholics. Overall, the fellowships are designed to provide aid and support for anyone who has been affected by someone else’s drinking.

women hugging in a support group meeting

How it Can Help You Understand Addiction

Now listen, I’m no professional, but I am an alcoholic, who is now sober. I have attended Al-Anon meetings because I am not only romantically involved with another alcoholic, but I also have several family members who battle with addiction. I think I have a pretty good view of both sides, and as much as I wish that just my knowledge of being an alcoholic could navigate me through my interactions with these people, sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. It is refreshing and beneficial to MY OWN life to attend Al-Anon because despite thinking I have all the answers, I usually do not. Al-Anon has helped me see the other side of my addiction and has really shown me how my behavior has and can affect others around me.

The fact of the matter is alcoholism and addiction are often a family problem, and for those of us who love an alcoholic, chances are, there are some areas that we can improve on to create a happy and healthy environment for everyone.  Whether it be how we interact with our loved one, how we treat others, and most importantly how we treat ourselves, the guidance we find in the rooms of Al-Anon doesn’t come as commands or even as advice, but it comes from the experience of others.

A big rule in Al-anon is that we work a spiritual program of recovery, this is 12 step based, and is intended to show us that we, just like our alcoholic loved one, are powerless over the effects of alcohol and to actively work towards making our lives more meaningful. The next main goal is to be of service to others.

It may seem condescending after the amount of time we have spent caring for and looking after our alcoholic that we need to redirect ourselves and be of even more service. This is important because we must be of service to people who have not yet found a spiritual outlet. In other words, to be of service to newcomers. Our alcoholic, whether sober or not, is something that we will learn is out of our control. For that reason, in order to be most helpful to that person, we must keep ourselves healthy, spiritually and mentally.

When I say that alcoholism is a family disease, I mean that the disease affects all of those people who have a close relationship with the drinker. The people who often care most are often the ones who suffer greatest. We can become too far entwined into the problems of our alcoholic loved one, which can lead to a diminished quality of life for us. We focus too greatly on them, where they are, what they are doing, how much they are drinking, etc. We can take on their problems and guilt, and we can eventually become just as ill as they are.

Al-Anon provides us with a step by step guideline on how to be our best selves, and how to live a life of spiritual, not religious, principles. It is only when we accept that things are out of our control, that we can start working towards a healthier and more productive life. Whether our alcoholic is still drinking or not, Al-anon is a group of people just like you and me, who have found hope and have found a better life.

Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction

Getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol is the most important thing that an addict or alcoholic can do in their life. At Pinnacle Recovery, we understand this and we are here to help you through the anxiety that going to a treatment center for drugs can bring. With help from our professionals, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible, and you can learn what it means to achieve a sustained and happy recovery. So call us today at 1-866-301-0573 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Pinnacle Recovery.