‘Hate the disease – not the alcoholic’ is Al-Anon’s motto

Al-Anon Family Groups is a support group for family members of alcoholics and they can be a great support to you if you are feeling overwhelmed by the alcoholic in your home…

Do you:

  • Search for hidden alcohol?
  • Pour alcohol down the sink?
  • Cancel plans because the drinker is unable to participate?
  • Worry about how much someone drinks?
  • Tell lies to cover up for someone else’s drinking?
  • Blame the drinker’s behaviour on his or her companions?
  • Isolate yourself from other people?
  • Secretly try to smell the drinker’s breath?
  • Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?
  • Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker’s behaviour?

Alcoholism is similar to any addiction – it’s a disease, not a choice

Through their groups across the country Al-Anon Family Groups provides the families and friends of alcoholics with strength, support and hope. Active in South Africa for nearly 70 years, this global support group allows those families living with problem drinkers to find help and support by attending regular weekly meetings in their area.

A spokesperson for Al-Anon says, “It is fully accepted across the medical and social services that alcoholism is a disease that can be passed from generation to generation. Not everyone who has a drink is an alcoholic. South Africa is a society where alcohol is socially acceptable and readily available.

“Those problem drinkers who realise that their excessive drinking is affecting their jobs, financial state, family lives, and personal relationships, hopefully will eventually find their way to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).”

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Alateen helps those children between 10 and 17, living in alcoholic homes or environments, learn that the drinking has not been caused by them, cannot be controlled or cured by them

Al-Anon is not part of AA, but a group that supports the family at all ages

“…from children living in alcoholic homes, adults who were brought up in homes where drinking was a serious problem, to those spouses, partners and other family members [who] feel their lives are in chaos because of the drinking.”

Alateen helps those children between 10 and 17, living in alcoholic homes or environments, learn that the drinking has not been caused by them, cannot be controlled or cured by them.

Why? Because it is a disease. Joining Alateen (which is free to attend) can also prevent the alcoholic gene from being triggered in themselves.

Peer pressure is often so strong that if these kids carry the gene, they are in danger of becoming an alcoholic.

Al-Anon Adult Children (AAC) is for those 18 and over who were brought up in alcoholic homes

The effects can last a lifetime and result in broken relationships, lost jobs and the loss of their own children in divorce cases. As one AAC member says, “I wish I had known about Alateen when I was 12. Maybe my life would have been a lot more serene.”

Al-Anon Family Group meetings (AFG) are for anyone – partners, spouses, grandparents, parents, friends and family. Recovery is a gentle journey of learning how they can take the focus off the alcoholic and put it on themselves and their own recovery from the damage of an often abusive relationship.

Go to www.alanon.org.za to find a meeting near you or call the 24-hour Helpline 0861 252 666

About Al-Anon Family Groups

In 1954 the American Medical Association declared alcoholism “a chronic disease over which the drinker has no control”. There are more than 20 million alcoholics in the United States and Canada alone. Alcoholism, a chronic, progressive disease, is often as devastating for those closest to the alcoholic as it is for the drinker.

Family and friends tend to think they can change the alcoholic, only to find themselves frustrated by their inability to effect any change at all. It is only when they learn that they are powerless over alcohol and its effects that any real progress can be made.

In Al-Anon, a support group modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), friends and relatives of alcoholics learn to detach themselves from the drinker and concentrate on their own healing. At the meetings, they learn they have a choice; instead of trying to ‘fix’ the alcoholic, they can take the focus off the drinker and begin to lead a happier, more manageable life themselves. The underlying belief of the Al-Anon program is that alcoholism is a family disease and that changed attitudes can aid recovery. Many of our members, regardless of age, come to regard the Al-Anon programme as a ‘life skills’ programme that helps them in all aspects of their daily lives.

Many children are profoundly affected by their parents’ alcoholism

They experience much the same feelings that adults do, including a sense of loss, confusion and guilt. Alateen was formed by Al-Anon in 1957 to help young people recover from the effects of someone else’s drinking.

Al?Anon is an anonymous, safe, mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking, whether they are in your life or not. Al-Anon is not a religious program and there are no fees or dues to belong to it. By sharing common experiences and applying the Al-Anon principles, families and friends of alcoholics can bring positive changes to their individual situations, whether or not the alcoholic admits the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.

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