Family members of those struggling with alcohol use disorder are often advised to attend Al-Anon meetings while their loved one is seeking treatment for addiction.  You may be wondering if this kind of in-depth participation is necessary, or how Al-Anon can help you and your family. While the benefits of Al-Anon support groups are vast, here are a few that are sure to improve the recovery experience for you and your loved one in treatment. 

Change the Things You Can

The Serenity Prayer, a short prayer said at every Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, asks God for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  These words provide a useful distinction to those struggling with addiction as well as all those that support them. Part of supporting your loved one while they are in treatment for addiction is recognizing that much of what happens next is out of your hands.  You can’t be there every step of the way as they work through the underlying issues of their substance abuse, just as you couldn’t force them to admit they have a problem or seek treatment. You can, however, take some time to assess the aspects of your family’s lives that you have some control over, and exercise your power to influence change.  Al-Anon support group meetings can help you to let go of the things you cannot change, and offer suggestions for the things you can. If your loved one will eventually be returning to your home, a few changes in surroundings can have a powerful effect on everyone in the household’s attitude and motivation. For example, you may be able to incorporate healthy habits such as a nutritious diet and daily exercise into your routine.  This will help foster a healthy lifestyle for your loved one in recovery and maintain your own physical and mental wellbeing at the same time.

Understand What Your Loved One is Facing

Al-Anon support groups are structured almost exactly like the support groups your loved one will be attending in treatment.  You will follow a 12-Step program in which you will be prompted to acknowledge a power greater than yourself and recognize alcohol use disorder as a family disease that affects everyone involved.  You may find that by working the twelve steps you will better understand your role in your loved one’s treatment, and how you can best support their sobriety. By mirroring your loved one’s treatment, you will be able to relate to them and their healing process, facilitating healing for the whole family.

End the Cycle of Codependency

Al-Anon recognizes that for many people who love someone who is addicted to alcohol, codependent and enabling behavior can be difficult to quit.  People in active alcohol addiction may become deceitful, manipulative, and even emotionally abusive to feed their addiction. When you love someone and want them to be happy, you may provide them with money, housing, and other needs while they are unable to support themselves.  Unfortunately, enabling someone to continue abusing alcohol will only keep them from recovery and building a productive life. Attending Al-Anon meetings and discussing your circumstances can help you to identify behavior that may be detrimental to your loved one’s recovery, and to work on personal emotional obstacles.  

Spouses and parents of addicted individuals often develop a behavioral addiction of their own.  They become dependent on the feeling of being needed, or to the experience of constantly saving someone from tragedy.  Support groups can enable you to see yourself from a different perspective and understand that everyone in your family is better off if the individual struggling with an addiction is able to establish true independence and no longer needs saving. 

Find Support

One of the greatest benefits of attending Al-Anon meetings is finding compassion and support from others who are experiencing similar struggles or have made it past obstacles you are currently facing.  You will hear stories from other members who have alcohol use disorder in their families, and come to understand what coping strategies worked for them, as well as what didn’t. Al-Anon meetings can provide you with a safe space to vent your frustrations and discuss your pain and may allow you to begin working through conflicts you face within your family that you are not yet emotionally ready to face directly.   

Along with the emotional and spiritual support of other empathetic Al-Anon members, you will have the opportunity to pick up on tips for supporting your loved one and giving them the best chance of lasting sobriety.  Experienced Al-Anon members have been where you are, and can help you avoid common pitfalls of dealing with addiction in your family. Perhaps most important of all, Al-Anon meetings are focused on helping you find happiness outside of your loved one’s addiction.  You deserve to experience joy and satisfaction in your life despite the choices and challenges faced by those you love, and Al-Anon can help remind you of this.  

 If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Burning Tree, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders.  Through accountability and commitment to the 12 Steps, each client will develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. We specialize in the treatment of chronic relapsers and believe with the right support you can experience true and permanent healing.  For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877