Al-Anon - Drug Addiction Help Now

 The Critical Role of Al-Anon in Family Addiction Recovery

For over 55 years, Al-Anon (which includes Alateen for younger members) has been offering
strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers. It is estimated that each
alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people… alcoholism is truly a family disease. No
matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all
who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in
the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship.

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Caring for Yourself in Order to Care for Someone Else

By Cindy Brody, Director of Intensive Services at Center for Motivation & Change

Many parents who have a child struggling with substance abuse notice that these concerns start to consume huge amounts of time and energy. As you’ve probably experienced, under the best of circumstances with kids, it’s hard to carve out space to focus on yourself. When your child and your family is dealing with something as complicated and anxiety-provoking as substance abuse, it can feel impossible to have room for anything other than trying to help, reacting to the latest crisis, and dealing with all the “have tos” minute to minute, day to day.

In this environment, taking care of yourself falls to the bottom of the list, if it makes the list at all! However, even though it might be the furthest thing from your mind (e.g. how can I go to the movies when I’m worried my child might be out getting high again?), finding some room to focus on self-care is really vital if you are going to be and remain helpful to your child and the rest of your family. This is about resisting your instincts to put your life aside by going into emergency/panic mode.

This is a long-term project; a marathon, not a sprint. Similar to running a marathon, you need to keep your energy reserves up and pace yourself for the long and sometimes bumpy road ahead. We are not being touchy-feely psychologists when we say this. We are trying to help you be tactical in the midst of a difficult struggle, and it matters. Try to keep in mind what they say on planes before takeoff: if the oxygen masks are needed, resist the urge to put it on others before you put it on yourself. Many people have the impulse to help their loved ones BEFORE they help themselves. But the oxygen recommendation is not that you alone use it; it’s to make sure you are getting at least some oxygen, and don’t entirely ignore yourself. Without attention to this, the “helpers” (that’s you) get lost along the way (”lack of oxygen”), and can’t guide, direct, think, and help anymore.

We also realize that no one wants to hear that the problem they are facing is likely to be a long haul as opposed to a short crisis. We do know, however, that taking care of YOU will help YOU ALL stay healthy as you navigate this, and will also help you be as effective as possible in working on all the challenges involved in trying to help your child.

We recommend that you spend some time each week doing something that makes you feel good, relaxed, content, soothed…something that’s a WANT, not a SHOULD. We recommend that each week, you take a few minutes to review how your self-care is going and to set reasonable, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) for taking care of yourself in the week ahead. You might find yourself wondering how in the world you can make this a priority when you have so many other, more urgent demands to attend to. We ask you to try, because the oxygen mask metaphor is true: you won’t be any good to anyone else if you are not taking care of you.

What’s your SMART self-care goal for this week?


The Center for Motivation & Change (CMC) is a unique, NYC-based private group practice of dedicated clinicians and researchers providing non-ideological, evidence-based, effective treatment of addictive disorders and other compulsive behaviors. CMC’s treatment approach is informed by a strong commitment to both the humanity and the science of change, providing a unique, compelling, and inspiring environment in which to begin the process of change. Staffed by a group of experienced psychologists, CMC takes pride in their collective record of clinical research and administrative experience but most of all are driven by an optimism about people’s capacity to change and a commitment to the science of change.

Learn more about Center for Motivation & Change and read about our unique and effective approach to treating addictive disorders, and meet CMC’s directorial staff and clinical staff. To find more resources for families, please see our Parent’s 20 Minute Guide, and our Family Blog. And to learn more about CRAFT, see our CRAFT Family Services page. Find us on Facebook and Twitter for additional content and the latest updates.

The Partnership at’s Time To Get Help website offers a Taking Care of Yourself checklist (pdf) — how many items can you check off the list?

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Al-Anon's Twelve Suggested Steps
Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps, copyright 1996 by
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Reprinted with permission
of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
Study of these Steps is essential to progress in the Al-Anon program. The principles they embody are universal, applicable to everyone, whatever his personal creed. In Al-Anon, we strive for an ever-deeper understanding of these Steps, and pray for the wisdom to apply them to our lives.
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.

The following link can help you find a support group in your area!
The effects live on.... 
I try so hard still to explain to my boys who are both young men that what they call normal behavior for their age group is such a slippery slope.  One that at any moment can take their life by  taking one step to close to the edge.  I see their father in them so often,  sometimes in very subtle good ways and other times I see the young man I knew who was just partaking in "Normal Behavior".  
I try to educate them with what I have learned but careful not to go to far.  As a parent I  know I have to let them live their lives but I will not stand by in denial or "behind a curtain" and just let them believe that this time of their lives, where they are "hanging" with their friends is in any way NORMAL! It is my responsibility no matter what their age to impart my wisdom on them and hope and pray that just a little seed gets planted!!  ?NORMAL BEHAVIOR OR THE EFFECTS LIVING ON?


Getting a family member or friend the treatment they need is a huge and important step, but family assistance and support should never stop with the end of rehab, and when the addict is reintegrated into the home and into the community after a treatment period, family help and support can be important factors in the ultimate ability of the recovering addict to maintain sobriety.
Ultimately, the decision to stay sober must come from the recovering addict, but there are some things that the family can do to decrease the probability of relapse; and convincing an addict to get the help they need is a great first step to recovery, but recovery doesn't end with rehab.

Get educated and get involved

Firstly, the family should be involved in the rehab process, and the family of the recovering addict needs to learn how best to support the addict once home, just as the addict needs to learn how to stay sober. Most recovery and rehab programs will include a family component, and caring family members should make every effort to attend and get the most out of this available resource.

Stay sober with the recovering addict

Secondly, the family needs to make it as easy as possible for the addict to transition back into the home environment and newly sober living. The family should provide a sober and alcohol and drug free environment for the addict, and the house should ideally be emptied of all possible intoxicating substances. A recovering addict can always get drugs or alcohol if they truly want to, but sometimes if it is too readily available, the temptation to use can be overwhelming.

Help to reduce stress in the recovering addict's life

Thirdly, support the addict in all areas of their life. Many recovering addicts relapse in response to stress and due to poor problem solving and coping skills. The recovering addict needs to take responsibility for their life, and this in fact a part of the healing process; but family members should be available to assist in any area that threatens to overwhelm the recovering addict during their first months of recovery. Whether it's helping with the kids, helping with the bills, or just being their for companionship; family should make these first months as stress free as possible, so the recovering addict can concentrate all of their energy on staying sober.

Don't let a relapse happen

Lastly, the family needs to take action if they suspect a relapse is imminent. There is no need to wait until after a relapse to act, and if you think that the recovering addict is in danger of using, you need to make sure they get into a safe environment. Sometimes all it takes is a visit and some companionship to get the addict back on the right track.

The family needs to care of itself as it takes care of the addict

You can't do it for them, but by offering educated support you increase the probability of long term sobriety and an ultimately happy outcome for everyone. Addiction often causes pain throughout the family, and the effects of addiction can ripple through the family for a long while even after sobriety is achieved. The family may also need to heal itself, and sometimes professional family counseling, or family addiction peer group support services are very beneficial in this healing process.
Recovery is ongoing, and although it tends to get easier with time, the family will need to be there for a while; doing everything they can to help the recovering addict stay sober.


I was married for almost 20 years, we have 2 boys together that are now young adults and trying to start their lives.  They are my heart they always have been and they always will be.  When I see the struggles they are having and the way they view the world I can only wonder how much is due to the life they endured as children.  Their father had a very loving side, a fun side and I do believe he loved his boys to the best of his ability. ( As much as that can be when you are constantly high on drugs or alcohol.)  I don't think he ever realized that he had so much more to offer them but because of his addiction they never got to experience that love.  I did the best job I could to show them love and fill in where I believed their father was absent.  I know that it just wasn't enough in some areas.  I remember sitting in church one day and our Pastor gave us statistics about the home.  It was how important a fathers role is in the lives of his children.  He told us that if a mother is faithful and attends church (when the father does not attend) then her children are only 28 percent likely to become regular attenders.   If the father attends and the mother doesn't that percentage jumps from 28 percent to 73 percent. ( I can not remember where he pulled this information from but I have found some information myself through the web).  If this influence on our children is that great when concerning our church attendance how much more influence does the father have on the tools we give/teach our children when coping with life,  be it bad or good.  I was overwhelmed by these numbers and even a little discouraged.  So now my children are living with constant addiction, arguments and all the craziness that addiction brings and they are also learning all of these behaviors and somehow it is in their human "makeup" to model the father even when they know the difference between right and wrong.  Of course I did not give up trying to influence my children to help them find the right road and to have peace and joy but now I have that statement ringing in my head...."DON'T STAY FOR THE CHILDREN!"  I always felt that it was better for them to have their father in their life rather than not at all.  He always threatened that he would move out of state and back to where he was born and they would never see him.  Guess what, after about a year of separation and then divorce, he did just that, moved so far away they only get to speak to him on the phone.  Although that was probably a good thing for many reasons, I know that it hurts them that he just left.  They have both expressed this absence to me in one way or another.  Then guilt sets in for me again wondering if I was stronger and left when they were young  maybe they wouldn't be having such a hard time now.  Maybe there would have been a male family member that influenced them in all the right ways. Hind sight right?

1 comment:

  1. In case there are folks out there(like me) that want and need to attend a meeting with others that are battling that same things you are, I found this wonderful site that has chat meetings! There are meetings for cutters, drinkers, druggers, etc. And, meetings for the loved ones of these folks that are battling!
    They have scheduled meetings in scheduled chat rooms and they also have just open chats.
    Check it out today!!