Al Anon is a support group and fellowship that was originally founded for the families and friends of alcoholics, but also welcomes the friends and families of drug addicts as well. The Providence Women’s Recovery Program of Northern Georgia highly recommends this organization to the families of those attending our program, and to families struggling with addiction in general. As a leading provider for Christian based women only drug addiction care, we know all too well that the insidious disease of addiction is one that not only affect the addict themselves, but all those who have contact with the addict. This of course includes family and friends of the addict who are very much victims of addiction as much as anyone, and often times go untreated for the emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage that occurs while witnessing the destruction of someone they love to this disease. .
Al Anon and Collateral Damage of Addiction
People by nature learn to adapt. It’s a survival mechanism that has a huge upside. But in the case of the loved ones of addicts, this adaptation can have unintended consequences. In the progression of addiction, a sad pattern of behavior develops in which the spouse, child, family member, or friend begins to change the way they behave in order to cope with the behavior of the addict. The term “codependency” was born of this reoccurring behavior. Author and PhD Tian Dayton explain’s the collateral damage of drug abuse like this:
The term codependency was originally associated with a person in relationship to an alcoholic. Over the years, the term has expanded to include any person in relationship to dysfunctional patterns of living. Co-addicts learn ways of acting and reacting when relating to an addicted person, or someone affected by mental illness or who is abusive. Living in dysfunctional or traumatic environments sets up a pattern where a person’s way of being in the world is contingent upon the behavior of others, especially if the person is unstable in some way.
Dr. Tian Dayton addresses these issues in her compelling book Trauma and Addiction, “Because of the unpredictable, uncontrollable and inherently traumatic nature of substance abuse and addiction, people who are chemically dependent, or those in an addict’s family system such as a spouses, children and siblings, usually experience some form of psychological damage. Family members as well as many addicts present disorders that extend across a range of clinical syndromes, such as anxiety disorders, reactive and endogenous depression and substance abuse, as well as developmental deficits, distortions in self-images, confused inner worlds with disorganized internal dynamics, and codependence.” Click the following link to read more about Tian and why Al Anon exists.
Al Anon is a way for people in this situation to get the help they need because it allows families and loved ones of addicts to find a degree of freedom in the knowledge that their loved ones addiction is not their fault, that they can’t cure it, and that no matter how much the love and try, they cannot control it.
Fear and frustration often accompany family members of addict and alcoholics. This constant emotional stress leads to other emotions such as anger and stress. But when families and friends find Al Anon support groups, they learn to find a peace that in turn allows them to better help themselves, and consequently, the addicted family member.
The Al Anon support groups allows these friends and families to talk to other people who have suffered in a similar way, and this action alone creates a comradery and deep level of support as people for the first time realize that there situation while tragic, is not unique in the sense that they are alone. Al Anon gives these people hope and friendship as they see the full spectrum of pain and joy, devastation and healing, being loss to having purpose. The do this through sharing, but also through a process of acceptance and healing called the 12 steps of Al Anon recovery.
The 12 Steps of Al Anon
Before reading these steps, please understand that if you are considering joining Al Anon, that working, understanding, and internalizing these steps is a process that you will be led through, one day at a time and at no particular pace, except the one you and an experienced Al Anon member decide upon. That said, strictly for informational purposes, these are the 12 steps of Al Anon:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Al-Anon’s Twelve Traditions, copyright 1996 by
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Reprinted with permission
of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
These steps are the heart of Al Anon, and many members will say that getting through them is one of the hardest and most full-filling tasks a person can ever undertake.
If you are ready to join an Al Anon group near you, then please visit the Al Anon website at Local Al Anon Meeting Schedule. If your mom, sister, or spouse, or female friend is in need of Christian alcohol and drug rehab at a price normal people can afford, then please consider telling them about our womens only drug rehab and alcohol rehab program, and by liking us at the Facebook link above. And while we have never met, you are indeed in our prayers as we absolute abhor addiction and the negative consequences it has on families and friends of addicts, not to mention the addict themselves .