What is Alcoholism?
Many people have family members that suffer from alcoholism and it takes a toll on their life as well. You may wonder, what is Al-Anon, and can it be helpful in my life? When you or a loved one are drinking to the point that it negatively affects or consumes your life, there is a good chance that you are suffering from alcohol addiction.
There is a staggering number of people in the United States who abuse alcohol, including approximately 15 million people. In 2018, an estimated 5.8 percent of people, which is 14.4 million adults, who are ages 18 and older were diagnosed with alcohol abuse. Also, in 2018 there were 401,000 adolescents aged 12-17 who were diagnosed with the disease.
To be diagnosed with alcoholism, there are certain parameters and metrics that are used to determine if you have a substance abuse problem or not. The first step to getting help is to reach out to a physician or doctor to exam your health and evaluate your symptoms. Below are some of the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
- Giving up or reducing social and work activities or hobbies
- Failed attempts to limit the amount of alcohol you consume
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms including nausea, sweating, and shaking
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect, or you have a reduced effect from the same amount
- Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing physical, social, or interpersonal problems
- Consuming alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming
- Missing major obligations at work, school or home due to repeated alcohol use
- Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol, or recovering from alcohol use
- Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol
Living with an Alcoholic
Recently, I was talking to one of my close friends regarding my alcoholic father and how unhappy he can make my life. After I was done venting about my father, my friend said to me that I need to start attending Al-Anon meetings to help with these feelings. My first thought was, I thought this was rude. Are you insinuating that I must get help simply because of my reaction to my father? I’m fine, I just need to vent occasionally. And my second thought was, what exactly is Al-Anon? It sounds similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, and I would certainly never go to that because I’m not an alcoholic.
It’s not as though my father is any kind of a violent, awful, or falling-down drunk who stumbles around. That’s not it. My father simply drinks every evening to a point in which he isn’t entirely coherent, and he sits down in the chair and passes out. It’s not really any danger for me or anyone else. But it’s still a problem. It really leads to difficulties for my household and me. For example, in the event that I actually need to speak to him about something very important such as a special occasion coming up or a problem that I am having, I have to make sure that I discuss it earlier in the day when my father has not been drinking, otherwise he may not remember what we discussed. Sometimes I may forget about the circumstances and not find a good time to have the discussion with him, leading to him not remembering an important aspect of my life.
Changing the Dynamic with Family Members
Because of my father’s problem with drinking, our household has changed in many ways, but not in a good way. We feel like we have to constantly “take care” of him because he often forgets things, we have the same conversations over and over and he gets to the point of not making sense. The rest of us always look at each other and roll our eyes because the way he acts is inappropriate and foolish in our minds.
To make matters worse, he never wants to do anything, it seems like ever. He works, and after that almost instantly wishes to sit down in his lazy boy chair and watch television while having his drinks. He never chooses to go out to dinner with us for a change in pace or environment, which is frustrating to us. He never wants to walk the dog. He doesn’t want to go check out any movies. He just goes to work, drinks, sits, and sleeps. That’s it. While he is drinking, it seems as though he has no enthusiasm over anything. And it’s really depressing and aggravating for all of us to see.
I know and understand that I have always been a bit more sensitive when it comes to anything pertaining to my father, his alcoholism, and how this links to me. I am likely to be easily triggered when this is talked about, yet the reality is that I feel mad. And now I feel curious. What is Al-Anon?
What are Al-Anon and Alateen Meetings?
At Al-Anon, there is a community of people who are equal and share a common problem, and that is that a family member or loved one suffers from addiction. When you go to Al-Anon you discover your anon family. The lives of these people have been severely affected by a person’s drinking habit, and there is a mutual support group offered to the community of people who attend the program.
Al-Anon is a support group program for those that are affected by someone else’s unhealthy drinking problem. By being able to share stories, experiences, and struggles along with the support from Al-Anon principles, families are able to bring some positive changes in how they are feeling in regard to their loved one’s drinking and how it affects them.
Where to find Al-Anon Meeting
There is a list of resources available to help you learn the right Al-Anon or Alateen support groups for you or your family members. They are held in practically every state, and most cities. For more information it is helpful to view their web page directly to find a meeting near you: https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/find-an-al-anon-meeting/
If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism, there is treatment available including a twelve steps recovery program that follows the traditions or a non-twelve step program. Reach out for help right away to a treatment or rehab near you.