Not only does alcoholism cause severe issues in the alcoholic’s life, but it can begin to negatively impact their family members as well. Commonly, the effects of alcoholism take a huge toll on the family and friends of the concerned person too. As a result, a program referred to as Al-Anon was created in order to help heal families of alcoholics. Al-Anon is a part of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community, a program designed to help alcoholics recover from their substance use disorder. In Al-Anon, families of alcoholics share their experiences and lend their advice to individuals suffering from similar circumstances.
Families and even friends of alcoholics can attend Al-Anon in order to receive help for the effects of their loved one’s alcoholism. Al-Anon meetings are held in-person or online, allowing individuals to give and receive support to one another. The only requirement for Al-Anon membership is that an individual must have been impacted by the excessive drinking of another person in their life. Although the programs may be similar, Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous are separate groups. However, both support groups utilize the 12 steps and traditions that AA was originally founded upon. If you have suffered from a family member’s alcoholism, Al-Anon can greatly benefit you on your road to recovery.
How Does an Individual’s Alcoholism Impact their Loved Ones?
Oftentimes, an individual’s alcoholism is equally as traumatic to their family members. Alcoholism can affect one’s family in many different ways, including separation or divorce, an unstable environment for children, and overall emotional and psychological damage. However, it is important to note that the individual may be completely unaware of the damage they are inflicting on their loved ones. Alcoholism is a disease that causes severe behavioral and psychological changes, leading to negative behavior that impacts those around the afflicted individual.
Having an alcoholic in your life can cause you to deal with unexpected and unwanted issues. This may mean:
- Extra care-taking
- A negative public image
- Being lied to
- Inability to trust
- Not knowing how to separate love and enabling
- Uncertainty about the future
Due to the effects that alcoholism has on an individual’s family members, everyone involved will require treatment. While most people believe that only the alcoholic needs to recover, the family also needs to recover emotionally and psychologically. As a result, individuals with alcoholic loved ones should seek a support group, such as Al-Anon, in addition to family therapy programs. By attending Al-Anon meetings and interacting with others dealing with similar circumstances, individuals may gain a new perspective, a renewed sense of purpose, and hope for the future. Additionally, Al-Anon’s goal is to keep members level-headed and has a long history of success in helping families of alcoholics to tackle their issues.
How is Al-Anon Beneficial to Families of Alcoholics?
Individuals who join an Al-Anon program are often experiencing one of the three issues; they are being affected by an alcoholic on a personal or professional level, the alcoholic in question is causing a heightened level of concern, and/or other individuals associated with the alcoholic may or may not know if they are being negatively impacted or not. In many cases, people assume unhealthy family roles that only worsen the situation in the home. For individuals going through one of these issues, AL-Anon can be extremely rewarding and beneficial for one’s mental health.
Learning to Set Healthy Boundaries
For most relatives of alcoholics, setting boundaries is one of the most difficult steps. This is because it can seemingly cause strain in the relationship, causing the alcoholic to distance themselves. While this can happen, setting boundaries is crucial for the health of family members as well as alcoholics. Boundaries are vital as they will serve as methods of ending enabling behavior. This is because they help to prevent alcoholics from continuing to feed off of others in order to fuel their addiction.
Developing an Understanding of Alcoholism
Oftentimes, most of the frustration that comes with dealing with an alcoholic family member stems from having little to no education on the disease of alcoholism itself. Fortunately, Al-Anon helps to provide the necessary education and understanding of the science of alcoholism and what kinds of effects it can cause. As a result, family members will be able to separate their loved one’s disease from their true character, allowing them to understand what they are truly going through.
Learning How to Utilize Family and Friends as Support
One of Al-Anon’s main goals is to bring families back together after experiencing the drastic effects of alcoholism. Consequently, individuals attending Al-Anon learn how to come together with their family as a united force, rather than attempting to deal with their issues individually.
During Al-Anon meetings, participants learn how to clearly and effectively communicate through educational exercises. As a result, individuals are able to develop relationships with others that allow them to feel supported through this difficult time.
Finding Alcoholism Treatment for your Loved One
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that, as previously mentioned, affects the entire family. Oftentimes, family members of alcoholics attend support groups such as Al-Anon that help them to recover from the effects of their loved one’s alcoholism. However, some individuals attending Al-Anon still have family members who currently struggle with alcoholism. If your loved one is in need of alcoholism treatment, Agape Treatment Center is here to help. To learn more about our individualized and comprehensive alcoholism treatment plans, contact us today!