Gandy: Helping those whose lives are affected by alcoholism
By Clinton R. Gandy
Dec. 29, 2017 at 10:57 p.m.
I am a person in recovery. I attended a Christmas function in Longview recently and during the program I heard a man speak who had been and was currently a member of Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a 12-step program for people whose lives have been negatively affected by the alcoholism of a parent, a spouse, a friend or a child.
The room only had a handful of chairs left unfilled so I found one on the back row. As the speaker told us how he got to Al-Anon, what happened and what things are like right now, I scanned the backs of roughly 50 peoples' heads.
The thought struck me it was odd this meeting wasn't being held in a much larger venue and, based solely on the people I know in my life, that bigger venue should be packed to the rafters.
I asked a lady I know from that program why Al-Anon wasn't standing room only. I personally know people who have their lives impacted daily by the alcoholism of husbands and wives, ex-husbands and ex-wives and still don't look for a proven way to regain their lives.
My friend told me there are many reasons people don't seek help for themselves. One is the secret keeping that runs through the family system when they have an alcoholic in it. Other reasons are shame or guilt. Denial, fear and confusion are facts that keep the family member from searching for solutions that might save their own sanity forever trapping them in needless despair.
The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics. They believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid in recovery. Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics.
The only requirement for the program is that you have a relative or a friend with a drinking problem.
My phone was the contact number a few years back for the recovery group I attended when the meetings were listed in the paper every week.
Almost every phone call I received was from parents at their wit's end. They unburdened themselves. I heard from grandparents raising their grandchildren because of alcoholism and addictions of their children, wives trying to find help for their husbands and siblings trying to find something to help their brother or sister.
When it comes to any of the 12-step groups, most follow the tradition of "attraction rather than promotion," a tradition the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous came up with as a governing guideline for groups to follow. I think most everyone in the world has heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, but few hear about the family program.
I am not a member of the Al-Anon program but have seen the transformation of some of its members and have been lucky enough to care for and be befriended by them.
There are a couple of quizzes on the Al-Anon website to help you determine if the program is a good fit for your situation. Interested people can visit al-anon.org/ to locate meetings and for links to other sources of information.
The Longview-Greggton Group of Al-Anon meets at 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at 4614 Loop 281. For information, call (903) 236-9101.
The East Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse is a great resource from all things recovery related and people can find meeting times and locations of several local meeting places. It can be reached at (903) 753-7633.
— Clinton R. Gandy, a resident of Gladewater, is an occasional contributor to the News-Journal.