How You Can Benefit from Going to Al-Anon
The roots of what would eventually become Al-Anon were planted in the kitchen of Bill and Louis Wilson’s house in New York City back in the 1930s. During this time Alcoholics Anonymous was just taking shape and Bill would regularly hold “meetings” in their house in order to help spread the message of recovery he had stumbled upon during his visit out to Akron, Ohio. A majority of the members back then were men and many times their wives would come with them to the Wilson house and they would go off with Louis and discuss the issues they were having with their husbands or whatever else they were facing that week.
Over the years these “kitchen meetings” of Louis expanded and in 1951, along with her friend Anne, they created a clearing house committee, in order to service requests from around the country for information on what they were doing in New York, and in an attempt to coordinate the groups that had sprung up. Collectively they chose the name Al-Anon and since that time it has helped millions of people around the world find serenity in the madness of having an addicted loved one.
Al-Anon is based on the 12 Steps and while they have their own literature, the concept is very similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, just with a different aim. The program serves as a means to help those who have a loved one that is currently suffering from, or has suffered from an addiction of some sort, find a spiritual experience that will allow them to handle the stress and pain that addiction can bring. It is interesting because while there are other services and support groups for people who’s loved ones have an illness, no other has such a large following as people who know an addict or alcoholic.
Addiction and alcoholism are toxic to say the very least and so being around a person who is currently in the throes of their addiction can be tremendously harmful to an individual. The addict or alcoholic can spin a web of deceit and delusion that can ruin the security of even the strongest of people and given enough time depression, anger, or even substance abuse are all possible. This is why it is important for a person who is close to an addict or alcohol to take care of themselves.
Besides offering the spiritual experience that can be gained by working the Steps, the program gives its members a level of support that they would not have otherwise. Alcoholism and addiction can be isolating illnesses and out of embarrassment or fear of judgment many family members do not discuss their loved one's addiction with other people. But in a meeting, they will find people who have suffered the same things they are suffering and have the safety of anonymity in which to share freely. This can be an incredibly cathartic experience, not to mention that knowing you are not alone can do wonders for a person’s mental health.
One of the main tenets of Al-Anon is taking care of yourself and detaching with love from the addicted individual. This is oftentimes difficult as the person who is addicted draws you into their world and love is confused with enabling. The program shows its members how to distinguish where and when it is healthy to give and where it is healthy to say no, and they offer people the strength to walk away from unhealthy situations. These ideas are crucial if the person living with an addicted individual is to keep their sanity and it also helps to remove some of the confusion that having an addicted loved one can bring about.
Yet, Al-Anon isn’t only for people who have a loved one who is currently drinking or using, but rather people who are sober themselves can attend, in order to better their sobriety or relationships. Many people who are in AA or NA also date people in the program. This can pose an interesting problem because let’s face it, addicts and alcoholics aren’t the most well individuals even after getting sober, so being in a relationship can really take some work. There can be a lot of jealousy issues or co-dependency and by attending meetings in this fellowship you can begin to work through these things.
Co-dependency is something that most people suffer from in one form or another and by implementing the teachings of this program a person can learn how to not wrap their self-worth up into another person. They can learn to become more okay with who they are as an individual and define their worth by the love they get from others. This is possibly the most important thing that a person can learn in their life because it opens the door to true self-acceptance and removes a lot of the negative things that come up in relationships with others.
So as you can see the benefits of attending Al-Anon are numerous and the program can be beneficial to just about every person on the planet. It can sometimes be difficult to seek out help or admit that your loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol, but in the rooms of Al-Anon, you will find love and compassion and all of the help you could ever need to work through the trying times of your life.