9 Ways I empowered myself by someone else’s addiction

After being sober for many years, this is my Al-Anon summary. Hang with me because I am embarrassed by my lack of knowledge. There was a guy named Bill Wilson, who started an organization called Alcoholics Anonymous. He was married to a woman named Lois. This poor lady stayed by his side during his terrible drinking years. She started an organization called Al-Anon to help other people who were married to sick alcoholics. This was a good way for them to have their own meetings and not feel left out. The AA meetings were fun with lots of laughter; often times the attendees celebrated various achievements with cake and coffee. The Al-Anon meetings were serious and often sad, because they mostly complained about the alcoholics. There was nothing to celebrate.

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There was a movie made about Lois Wilson.

My information was not very accurate …. this is what happened. When I first started dating my husband, he was a very involved member of Al-Anon. I thought it completely strange, since he did not grow up in an alcoholic household. In fact, none of his relatives have had a drinking or drug problem. He told me that he “qualified” because his ex-wife was a drug addict and alcoholic. But, that didn’t make sense either because they were both sober, when they met. He told me that she had “power” over his emotions. For example, if she wanted to make him really angry, she knew just the right buttons to push. So, he was learning “her behavior is non of my business”. He was not giving her the power to control his day.💕

That was weird. I thought surely that people went to Al-Anon so they would be told to leave their drinking spouse or cut off their drug-using kids. He explained — this is not true. If the person wants to stay in that relationship, that is fine. However,  the alcoholic or addict will not “call the shots” anymore. Their destructive behavior will have no effect on the household. This means — stop throwing the booze and dope away. Stop making empty demands and threats to make the person quit.

What if they want help

Now, if the person wants to change, that is a different story. I help people get into treatment centers every day. I am shocked at the amount of success I get to see. Addiction and Alcoholism are both deadly diseases with high relapse rates. However, there are effective treatments. I have watched so many folks turn their life around.

If the person refuses to change — can Al-Anon “fix me”?

I can’t be sure, but I know that the change in my husband has been profound. To see if you might be interested, here are the twenty questions from their website.

Millions of people are affected by the excessive drinking of someone close. The following questions are designed to help you decide whether or not you need Al-Anon:

1. Do you worry about how much someone drinks?
2. Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking?
3. Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else’s drinking?
4. Do you feel that if the drinker cared about you, he or she would stop drinking to please you?
5. Do you blame the drinker’s behavior on his or her companions?
6. Are plans frequently upset or canceled or meals delayed because of the drinker?
7. Do you make threats, such as, “If you don’t stop drinking, I’ll leave you”?
8. Do you secretly try to smell the drinker’s breath?
9. Are you afraid to upset someone for fear it will set off a drinking bout?
10. Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker’s behavior?
11. Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?
12. Have you considered calling the police for help in fear of abuse?
13. Do you search for hidden alcohol?
14. Do you ever ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking?
15. Have you refused social invitations out of fear or anxiety?
16. Do you feel like a failure because you can’t control the drinking?
17. Do you think that if the drinker stopped drinking, your other problems would be solved?
18. Do you ever threaten to hurt yourself to scare the drinker?
19. Do you feel angry, confused, or depressed most of the time?
20. Do you feel there is no one who understands your problems?

If you have checked any of these questions, Al-Anon or Alateen may be able to help. Find a meeting now.

Wow, that is a low bar for admission. Normally, you need to check anywhere from 12 to 19 questions “yes” out of 20. In this test, you qualify if you checked just one.

My list of 9 ways I empowered myslef:

If you are even a little bit curious about Al-Anon, please allow me to persuade you to go. I am not a “member” but I attended about 20 meetings. My motivation was curiosity (and maybe to better myself and better serve others).🌟Here are my take-aways:

  1. People were crazy nice and welcoming
  2. There was laughter
  3. Coffee and cookies were regularly present.
  4. There was no weirdness or recruiting.
  5. I felt no pressure to come back.
  6. I was asked to share at the meeting and it’s always nice to talk about myself
  7. There were no dues or fees, but they passed a basket
  8. I was going to take an hour lunch break anyway, so it was a great use of time
  9. I left feeling better than when I came
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Do drug and alcohol interventions work?

Let me end by giving you a more formal description I got over at my favorite site Healthline.

 

Al-Anon is a support network for people who are affected by another person’s alcoholism or alcohol abuse. People who live with the effects and consequences of a person’s addiction can use this group as a way to connect with other individuals facing similar challenges. Through this interaction, friends and relatives can gain a greater understanding of how they can cope and help their loved ones face the struggles of breaking an addiction. Al-Anon also helps people accept and address the emotional and mental effects a loved one’s alcoholism can have. A local chapter of AA can help you connect with an Al-Anon group.

Another Direction

I have written several articles on co-dependancy and intervention. If you have a loved one in your life, offering a drastic “bottom line” might be the missing link. Just be sure that you are healthy, strong and in fit spiritual condition before you try to help some one else.

drug and alcohol treatment
I write my blog for fun and for free — my website can be found by clicking here. 

18 thoughts on “9 Ways I empowered myself by someone else’s addiction

  1. I think Al-Anon is a great fellowship for those affected by a loved one’s drinking. I went to Al-Anon advised by my NA sponsor when I was trying to leave my ex-armed robber pimp and drug dealer boyfriend who, though in recovery, had hit me and smashed up the house after a year of escalating abuse. Obviously he had anger issues he hadn’t dealt with. But I found it difficult in Al-Anon as an addict because I felt that the addict/alcoholic is the “bad guy” in Al-Anon. I went to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous instead and did eventually leave him when he had a baby with someone else. I think Al-Anon is perfect for many non-using partners of addicts and alcoholics though as they often have serious issues of co-dependence themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Execellent commentary. First of all, your story sounds like the screenplay of an awesome movie that I want to see. Second, I think you bring up a good point about being the bad guy. I forgot that my husband told me he kept “anonymity” when he went to meetings. What I mean is that he didn’t mention his own alcoholism. I have also heard that CoDa can be helpful. In any case I’m really proud of you because you sound like a strong woman.

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  2. Al Anon helped me AFTER attending AA… to learn it was a family disease, and the alcoholic may look like the so called “bad guy” but in Al Anon people in true recovery try to look at themselves rather than blame the alcoholic. We inherit certain patterns and behaviours. Doing a 4th step in Al Anon will help you to look at those if you can be honest. I cant recommend the programme of Al Anon highly enough. Its about principles not personalities who may have their own foibles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your helpful insight. You also reminded me of something called a “double winner” group. I can’t express how annoying I find that “cute” term. However, these are meetings especially for people that are alcoholics and Al-Anon members – hence the double winner (meh). Now, this is probably not an option available to most. I saw these meetings when I lived in Orange County, California. This is an area where there are literally hundreds of meetings everyday. We are currently in a small town in Texas. There are only a few meetings a day and maybe one Al-Anon meeting per week.

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      1. Yes, it is harder in some areas. I was grateful to have got sober in a large town where there were at least 5 meetings a day and for the first 90 days I could go every day. We still have the literature to turn to, I guess but its not the same as being with others at meeting where there is good recovery.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Alanon helped me tremendously during my marriage to an alcoholic. But it was the first serious relationship AFTER my divorce that I really reaped its rewards. I met, fell in love and moved in with ANOTHER alcoholic. But this time I took what I had learned and applied it. I was able to set boundaries and make hard choices for my own health. I didn’t get caught up in the cycle of co-dependent/enabler. It wasn’t easy and I’m still grieving over the loss of what I thought we had, but had it not been for alanon, I would be far worse off now than ever. They are a great support system

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a unique story. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m just curious, do you still feel it helpful to attend meetings? I know that my husband stopped attending after his pain went away. Now, he simply practices what he has learned.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t attended meetings for a long time and often wonder if I should – especial since my last failed relationship. I’ve been on some dates with men who were also heavy drinkers. Sometimes I think I’m attracting them. So currently I’m in two minds as to whether or not to attend. What is stopping me, is all the bad memories of having to deal with an alcoholic. I hope my answer makes sense 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A meeting only takes about an hour out of your day. I can’t see the downside of just trying one. My experience has been similar to going to the gym when I have gone for a couple of years. I really need to be pushed hard to go the first time. So I will be your “push”.
    Go and try just one meeting. It’s only one. Then report back …. how it went. 🙂 If you don’t like it, at least you will know it wasn’t for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At the Al-Anon meetings I attend, there are *many* regulars who also participate in other 12-step programs.

    They are my go-to peeps when I have questions about my loved ones who are (or aren’t) in recovery. I don’t believe they are seen as “bad guys” at all. They are gold mines of experience, strength, and hope.

    Al-Anon’s 5th tradition urges its members to encourage and understand their alcoholic/addict loved ones. To treat someone from another fellowship as the “bad guy,” or somehow “less than,” violates this tradition, and can be a sign of an unhealthy meeting.

    And I attend meetings regularly, because when I skip? I tend to lose my shit. It ain’t pretty.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very good feedback. I sometimes assume that people with double issues need to attend only the “double winners” meetings. By the way …. who came up with that annoying phase “double winner”?

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  6. My experiences with Al-anon were very different. Everyone was a broken person with nothing to aim for or achieve such as sobriety. Even after being apart from the alcoholic for years, a lot of people were horribly affected by it. Lots of people were shaking and visibly upset. In comparison the AA meetings I’ve been to have been really positive and uplifting and people look after one another. I’m upset that there’s so much help for the alcoholic but the people who they abuse and whose lives have been ruined by them are left to fend for themselves. I realise that this was just your experience, but I believe that people should know that other people may have had very different experiences.
    I was really offended that you wrote “and not feel left out”. It seems rather glib and insensitive that you think that’s why al-anon was created. The meetings serve completely different purposes. I’ve been horribly abused by someone I love who can’t remember because he was so drunk. There is nowhere else that can help me come to terms with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate your candor and you are correct. Al-Anon has a lot of purposes – a fellowship for spouses and family member to “not feel left out” doesn’t do the program any credit.

      Thanks very much – this will be a great topic for me to do a more in-depth article. I will be taking your suggestions into the article.

      Liked by 1 person

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