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 affect 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 (AA), 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 happier and a 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 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.
I came to Al-Anon as the 48-year-old adopted daughter and only child of a loving but alcoholic mother...
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