The holidays can be a tough time for family and friends of alcoholics. For many, just knowing their loved one will be intoxicated through the holidays is painful enough, but alcoholism can create a wide range of other issues from financial hardships to bitter arguing.
"For families where there is active alcoholism, the holiday season can be an extremely stressful time," she said. "Not only is there the pressure of the holiday season that everyone experiences but, in addition, there’s the worry, anxiety and fear. For me, I actually dreaded the holiday seasons because I knew my partner would get drunk and I knew it would be a major discomfort for the entire family. It was an issue that impacted everybody’s appreciation of the holidays and Al-Anon helped me put that in perspective so I could actually enjoy the holidays."
Sometimes there is pressure on the people who are not drinking to try and hold it all together, and sometimes even children feel that pressure. For others, alcoholism can bring up feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame. Some people don’t recognize their loved one is an alcoholic or, in other cases, they feel responsible for the alcoholic’s drinking.
Dealing with these confusing issues alone can be very difficult but, for more than five decades, Al-Anon has been offering a place for people to go during the holiday season or anytime of the year. It is a place people can learn to cope with alcoholism and share with others who are in the same boat. At Al-Anon, people are no longer alone. Al-Anon offers hope.
Started in the United States in 1951, Al-Anon Family Groups, which includes Alateen (for teenagers), now has more than 26,000 groups in 130 countries. Although the Mason does not have an Alateen group, teens are welcome at our meetings. Al-Anon doesn’t involve fees or registration, and group leaders estimate more than half a million people are involved with Al-Anon worldwide. Like the now well-known Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon is a non-professional, unaffiliated organization that doesn’t provide counseling in the traditional sense but, instead, it is a place where people can associate with others who are dealing with the same issues and, through the 12-step program used by AA, they can learn to cope with the disease.
For some people, it’s the difference between feeling that their world is falling apart — that they have nowhere to go — versus having a safe room to share with others and hear stories that are similar to their own."
Al-Anon abides by "the three C’s: Can’t cause it, can’t cure it and can’t control it." The three C’s are especially important to newcomers as they learn to deal with a loved one’s alcoholism. Spiritual rather than religious, Al-Anon does refer to a higher power during the meetings and in the literature, sometimes calling the higher power God, but spirituality is approached in a way that allows people to apply their own belief system.
Anonymity is an Al-Anon tradition. Because we are a small community, we emphasize this tradition and expect participants to respect this anonymity. Meetings are held every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Historical Building in Mason. For more information call 325-347-5805 or 325-258-4441.