Al-Anon Family Groups

Al-Anon Family Groups

The missing dimension in discussions about alcohol-related harm in our community.

Tim Costello Chief Executive Officer World Vision Australia says:
"While there is no doubt about the value and importance of evidence, statistics, costs and systems analysis, it is what happens to real people in real situations that I find most compelling. The harm caused to others by alcohol misuse has been the missing dimension in discussions about alcohol-related harm in our community.

Our siloed system of counting and measuring health, social or legal costs has failed to account for the real costs of alcohol-related harm that are often incurred in shamed secrecy."

Al-Anon Family Groups in Australia have been supporting and empowering the families and friends of alcoholics in their quiet despair for over 60 years. Al-Anon has always co-operated with all helping agencies including Law enforcement, Rehabilitation facilities, Hospitals, Education and Community Support Agencies. Statistically there are at least 6 people directly affected by an alcoholic's behaviour. Families can be destroyed, children become lost emotionally and can go on to destructive behaviour themselves and work place environments are disrupted. All of these consequences can involve police intervention at various times. Al-Anon members have been invited to speak to police officers in training at Police Academies over the years. This has been most effective. Police go out into the community with a better understanding of alcoholism and can suggest Al-Anon to families who are suffering.

Understanding alcoholism and how it affects the whole family and the wider community is the missing dimension in discussion about alcohol harm in the community. Al-Anon Family Groups have a clear message: there is a solution and there is help.

Personal sharing from an Al-Anon member.
I first came to the Al-Anon program 33 years ago. My best day's work ever. Al-Anon saved my life and my family's. I thank God every day for guiding me to the Al-Anon Family Groups program.

Many miracles have occurred since my first meeting, my husband and youngest son are both sober in AA, our four daughters' lives are good, but would be even better if they came to Al-Anon. My working of the Al-Anon Family Groups program has had a positive influence in their lives. Today we enjoy a great family relationship together.

Our eldest son is a different story. His addiction to alcohol and drugs have led us to an association with police which has not always been very good. In the early days we would have them calling in every day, looking for him, then it was the C.I B… many times jumping over the back fence, handcuffing him and dragging him off under arrest. It was very scary stuff and devastating for the family, especially for our youngest son who is five years younger than his brother. My husband's drinking was in full flight. Thank God for Al-Anon, the help of the program, people at the meetings and support of other members' phone calls and visits gave me the strength and courage to guide me through.

Our son graduated from youth detention to the prison system, where instead of learning a lesson as police would tell us, he just learnt better lessons on how to burgle houses and to steal whatever he could (also from his own family) to feed his addiction. We had locks on all bedroom doors.

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to visit your children in prison and for me, no matter how many times I did, it never got easier. I always felt the police judged us as well as our son. Our son is now 40 years old and has been in and out of prison for more than half his life. He is currently serving time.

In Al-Anon I have learnt that my son makes his own choices, the best thing I can do for him is to love him unconditionally. With all the tools this program has given me I can detach with love.

He is a very lucky guy – all his siblings write to him, care for and love him. I believe that's thanks to Al-Anon Family Groups. By following its suggestions, being accepting of any situation (especially our son's) and surrendering my will to this simple program that gives me good orderly direction. It has helped me to have a good life, no matter how bad things get (nothing good or bad lasts forever). I believe there is always hope and I have a sense of humour that helps.

I do believe if the information about Al-Anon Family Groups was introduced in the training programs of police and prison officers it would help immensely when dealing with young offenders. Understanding of the family members is so important when treating this disease. I thank everyone that I have met in Al-Anon for the help, understanding and patience they have shown me over the years, especially my close friends whom I have come to love.

Thank God for Al-Anon.