Al-Anon and Alateen

Al-anon is an organization formed to help the families of an alcoholic. It was started about 55 years ago by Lois Wilson and Anne Smith.  Lois and Anne were the wives of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. It occurred to Lois Wilson that maybe she needed help as well, when she threw a shoe at her husband, Bill Wilson. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and mostly for the young people with an alcoholic in their life. There are about 24,500 meetings of Al-Anon and Alateen meeting in 131 countries. As with Alcoholics Anonymous, they are anonymous with no dues or fees as they are self supporting through their own contributions. To reach Al-Anon, you can call 1-888-425-2666 or go to an Al-Anon website.

Alcoholics affect at least 4 other people with their disease. The family of the alcoholic lives in fear and denial just as the alcoholic does. They feel they have to constantly cover for the alcoholic. The family is afraid to have people visit their home because they never know how the alcoholic will act. Children are especially affected in this area. They want to have friends over as is their right. However, they are routinely embarrassed by the alcoholic and eventually don’t bother having friends over. The spouse and the alcoholic frequently get into arguments concerning the drinking and the children suffer from that kind of atmosphere. Often spousal abuse goes with arguments. The alcoholic feels remorse for his or her actions and makes promises to never drink again and it works for awhile. The sober spouse is hopeful that the change will come. Sadly, it almost never changes for long.

If you are the family of an alcoholic, I strongly urge you to try Al-Anon and Alateen for your children. Al-Anon can teach behaviors that will help you cope with the alcoholic, or if needed, the courage to leave. Unfortunately, the family is usually as sick as the alcoholic. People can learn to live in chaos. In fact, sometimes they prefer the chaos, because the idea of change is daunting. I believe it is possible when the alcoholic sees the family getting better despite his drinking; it might be impetus for him/her to get help.

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