Alcoholic, Living with an Community
Al-Anon Do's and Don'ts
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This patient support community is for loved ones of people who drink and are trying to quit for discussions relating to abuse, behavioral issues, caring for yourself, counseling, divorce and separation, enabling, guilt, and when to get medical help.

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Al-Anon Do's and Don'ts

Truer words were never written.  Just wanted to share these ideas from Al-Anon since they helped me get a handle on things.
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DON'T treat the alcoholic like a child; consider this person as if he or she were suffering from any other disease.

DO attend Al-Anon meetings regularly and find a group where you feel comfortable.

DON'T check up to see how much the alcoholic is drinking, search for hidden liquor, or pour the liquor out.

DO reach out for help in-between meetings by calling members and reading Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature (CAL) daily.

DON'T nag the alcoholic about the drinking.  Never argue while he or she is under the influence of alcohol.

DO remember that we can't control, cause, or cure alcoholism.

DON'T preach, scold, or enter into quarrels with the alcoholic.

DO attend at least six meetings before deciding if Al-Anon is right for you.
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13 Comments Post a Comment
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495284_tn?1333897642
Excellent post and advice~~

Is this really you Jaybay?!!!  lol
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82861_tn?1333457511
Scary, ain't it!  :-D
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495284_tn?1333897642
Not scary at all........FINALLY!!
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82861_tn?1333457511
LOL!  Isn't it funny how these things happen?  I wish I knew exactly what changed in my brain that I said "enough" and took back control over my life.  Sure, there was a cascade of disasters but any one of them could have lit the fuse. Why was the disaster  of June 18 the last straw?  I have no idea.  I'm just glad the scales finally fell from my eyes.

Life is already so much better.  The everpresent tension in this house is pretty much gone and we're both moving in the right direction: me to Al-anon; he to AA and an intensive outpatient rehab program; and both of us in private therapy.  Sure, there are bumps in the road and there always will be whether alcohol is present or not.  I have no idea what the future holds but know it will be better than the path we were on.  It's good to laugh and smile again.  :-)
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495284_tn?1333897642
None of us know what the future holds, all that matters is what today holds and today you are laughing, smiling and on your way to really living, not just existing~~

Happy 4th my friend~~hugs
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203342_tn?1328740807
Jaybay, I'm so thrilled for you that things are looking up! I really am. I would love to hear your story sometime if you'd like to share.

I guess I'm not there yet.
Some of these things on the list I can understand but to be honest, some of it I don't. Like for instance, I have trouble accepting this is a disease because in my mind that makes it look like the person is helpless and can't help themselves but there is a choice to drink. They make that conscious choice to drink or to stop. I would think that would be more impowering to them to look at it from that standpoint than that they have a disease and therefore can't help themselves.
This may be one of the reasons why I had trouble with the Al Anon meeting I went to.
I also don't see anything wrong with pouring out any alcohol I may find. If I don't want it in my house, I should be able to have that choice, shouldn't I? Especially since I have a young child in the house. Is this so wrong?

I do understand about treating them right but how do I let go of the anger and disappointment I feel constantly? As a Christian I know I'm supposed to forgive and give it all to God but I'll be honest, I'm really struggling with that. Everyone keeps saying "Oh, just give it to God, give it to God", and I'm trying! I don't know why this is so hard. I had an uncle who was a much worse alcoholic than my husband and finally died of alcohol poisoing way too young. I saw him in the hospital and how bad he looked and felt sadness and compassion for him, so why can't I feel that way towards my own husband? Is it because he hasn't gotten to that point? I just don't know.
He keeps saying he's in control, he's in control, but that only reinforces to me that he's doing something he knows is damaging to his marriage, family and even to himself.

I hope some day I can have peace with all of this too and move forward but right now I feel like I'm caught in a vicious cycle that keeps going round and round and I can't get off.
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495284_tn?1333897642
April, i am a good one at saying I'm here cuz Im not all there!!  Something in my brain is not right, call it a chemical imbalance or whatever you want but that part of me has shorted out.  I am not big on calling it a disease either but the bottom line is i am a recovering alcholic.  Calling it a disease doesnt give us a free pass to continue or have someone feel sorry for us, it means we have to work that much harder to put our "disease" in remission.  Cancer patients have chemo, addicts have aftercare.  We dont know why some can go out and drink socially and it never bothers them, all i know is i am not one of those people.  Alcoholics have no control over anything.  Chemicals give us a false sense of security.  Your husband is only fooling himself.  Your husband is ruining his liver as we speak.  Eventually he will start to have problems, that is a guarantee.  There isnt a happy ending to alcoholism.  Death is very painful.

There are no levels or rating system to alcoholism.  Either you are or you arent.  I think you are still trying to hold on to the fact that "maybe" he is in control.  You also have to get to the point where you finally believe that he is an alcoholic.  You are in the classic addiction mode right now as the family member.  Your life has been turned upside down and now you want to set it back straight.  The time is coming for you when you will say enough is enough.  This doesnt happen overnight....Just ask Jaybay!!  She went thru he!! and back and then went thru it again.  You are making progress and that is why i always tell you to keep talking with us.  He may drop a fork someday and that will be the straw that breaks the camels back.  It is a crazy yet comforting feeling......sara
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82861_tn?1333457511
Very true Sara.  April, I wish there was some magic formula for family members of alcoholics to follow.  "After X number of drinks, x number of negative incidents, do Y and the problem is solved."  It doesn't work that way because every one of us is different and our situations in life are different.  The only thing we have in common is that we are affected by an alcoholic's drinking.

I liken living with an alcoholic to preparing for a major disaster.  The goal is to protect your health and your wealth so you can start over again if necessary.  If we don't take steps to do that, the alcoholic WILL destroy both health and wealth not only for himself but for his family.

Alanon recommends not pouring out liquor for a couple reasons.  One, policing the alcholic doesn't work.  Period.  An active drinker will find a way to drink no matter what we do.  Two, the alcoholic has to experience the negative consequences of his own behavior before he will seek help.  Putting off a crisis like a car wreck, a DWI or a serious physical health crisis only puts off the day he may decide he's had enough chaos in his life.  It's incredibly difficult to watch the train wreck but it has to happen or nothing will ever change.

Yes, it's a choice to pour that first drink of the day.  After that, choice doesn't figure into the equation.  Alcoholics don't have an off switch.  End of story.  

Alcoholics already live with tremendous amounts of shame and guilt.  Any more shame and guilt that we try to heap on them in an effort to make them stop drinking is nothing in comparison to what they already live with.  It's nothing new to them and won't prompt an epiphany.  That's why begging and pleading with an alcoholic to quit has absolutely no impact.  

I've never really been one to get into screaming and shouting matches.  I knew it was useless to say anything so I resorted to passive-aggressive techniques.  That did no good either and only served to leave me drowning in my own anger and bitterness.  The pressure finally built up enough that the scales fell from my eyes and I realized I had the power to take back my life all along.  And I did it.  

My goal wasn't to get my husband into rehab or even to convince him to stop drinking.  It was to stop the chaos in my own life.  The fact that he chose rehab is only icing on the cake.  That's what Alanon is all about.  Nobody will tell you what to do other than to follow the do's and dont's listed above.  Think of Alanon as more of a self-improvement program than as a roadmap to getting your alcoholic to stop drinking.  It's about us; not the alcoholic.  None of us is perfect.  We all have flaws and are works in progress.  We can all become better people and learn how to better cope with life with an alcoholic if we work the program.

April, I think you could really benefit from trying Alanon again and getting a sponsor to help you through incidents like your husband picking you up from work when he's been drinking.  It's worth a try isn't it?  Like Sara has said so many times: if nothing changes, nothing changes.  :-)
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Al Anon did NOT help my situation. All they told me was...Don't Leave Him.
After years of being verbally and emotionally abused, accused of being the reason for his drinking and taking food and bill money to buy his booze...I couldn't handle it anymore.

I am happy for those that Al Anon did help...but for me...it was as if they were asking me to "coddle" his addiction, ignore my own pain and focus on feeling pity for his.  This almost drove me to suicide.  I divorced...the BEST thing I EVER did...otherwise, I would have KILLED him.
I am not trying to offend anyone...and not all Al Anon locations have the best moderators. I am just sharing my own personal experience with the Al Anon chapter in my town.
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203342_tn?1328740807
Thank you for sharing, Jaybay. I'm everything worked out so well for you, I really am.

I have to say, I can kind of relate to what Weffette just said above. I think Al Anon needs to be support for the family member, not the alcoholic. They have AA for that.

As far as the feelings of guilt and shame, that at least shows they haven't hardened themselves to this yet. My husband has gotten very arrogant about all of this just the last year or so and feels no guilt or shame. He sees nothing wrong with have "a drink" to relax, etc., when he wants to. He's being very careful to be very controlled right now and will not discuss it with me, again, acting very arrogant about it. He's hardened himself and is in a dangerous place because of that, and yes, I've told him that, and no, it meant nothing to him.
Supposedly, he's only hiding it still because I "make a big deal about it". I've told him to bring it out in the open, if he doesn't have a problem with it. But no, he doesn't do that and it's all because of me, of course.

I'm still struggling with all of this because he still does a good job at work, works around the house, pays the bills, etc., and I wonder but then he does something like pick me up from work with alcohol on his breath. Maybe I should have just called the cops then, since he claimed he could pass a breathalizer.
I now know he's driven my kids after having "a few drinks". For some reason, my daughter did not tell me some of this until years later, only recently did I find out some things. I wish I had known then. I am watching more closely now and I do think he's being much more careful and don't think he'd do that again, at least with our youngest, since I know he adores him. I know he'd never do anything to hurt him.

I don't normally have him pick me up from work but I didn't have the car that day. I will try to be more careful about all of that and will consider the Al Anon again. Thanks again, Jaybay.
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82861_tn?1333457511
Weffette - you really did have a rotten Alanon group.  Nobody is supposed to tell anyone else what to do.  Certainly nobody should have told you to stay - or leave for that matter.  That decision was entirely your own and I'm glad to hear you did what you needed to do to get your life back.  Nobody is required to follow any guidelines put out by Alanon either.  Take what resonates with you and what you can use and trash the rest.  Same goes for AA.  

April - I wouldn't say that "everything has worked out" at all.  This is just the beginning.  Right now, at this moment, life is calm and moving in the right direction.  That's it.  We both have a whole lot of work to do on ourselves invidvidually.  For the first time I really understand what "one day at a time" means.  I no longer spend hours of every day being angry and resentful about everything that alcohol has cost us both.  I can't carry the hurts of the past around anymore. I just can't.  For now, I can focus on today and whatever happens in the future will happen.

As for your husband claiming that he can control his drinking, well, I've heard that plenty of times myself.  He may never admit that he doesn't have an off switch until something really horrible happens.  

My husband adores me too but he's driven drunk with me too many times to count and emotionally hurt me too many ways to count.  The longer he got away with it, the more he became convinced he was invincible and "in control" of his drinking and therefore, not an alcoholic.  On the occasions when I managed to get the keys, he thought it was fun to mess with me while I drove.  Little things like grabbing the steering wheel, poking me in the side, waving his hands in front of my face.  I cringe looking back on those episodes and kick myself for putting up with that and more for so many years.  All I ended up doing was to refuse to go anywhere with him, certainly not parties, and isolate myself from the rest of the world.  I checked out of life.  If nothing else, Alanon gets me out of the house and into the shallow end of life.  For now, it's enough.
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495284_tn?1333897642
Alcoholics only think they are being careful.  We are masters of disguise and masters of lies.  When someone is on to us we just up our game.  I too adored my children but i loved my alcohol more.   I drove with them in the car drunk many a times.  I was invincible, i was in control and noone could ever stop me.  I wasnt like those other drunks who were falling down drunk, slurring their words, wetting their pants etc.  I got up everyday and went to work, came home, fed my kids, made sure their homework was done and put them to bed, all the while i had a drink in my hand.........
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1666434_tn?1325265950
I always hate hearing about negative experiences from Ala-non but they do exist and there are some unhealthy groups out there.  You have to go with your gut when you go to one.  That was actually one of the reasons I stopped going to Ala-non at one point.  I had a home group that I went to for years and when I had moved and went and tried several other meetings in the various states I went to, it was never quite the same.

Maybe I changed and that's why too, I can never fully explain I am sure.  But if you are in immediate danger to yourself or to the alcoholic by all means take whatever rational action you need to and get out of the situation.  If I recall in Ala-non everyone used to say give it 6 months to see if the situation changes, but yes we don't always have 6 months when our health or safety are involved.  So along with using the tools Ala-non gives us we also need to use our common sense for our own situation.  If you think you need to leave, then do it.  Even if it is for a cool-down period, do what you feel is right to get yourself or your family safe.

Excellent post JayBay glad you started this.
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