Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Day in Al-Anon: Love, Light, Laughter

Family and friends suffer when a loved one has a drinking problem. Al-Anon provides support, help and hope for those families and friends. The Al-Anon Fellowship of Lake and Mendocino counties invites the community to join them for a one-day event to provide public information, attend workshops and gather for fellowship and support. This year's free Day in Al-Anon: Love, Light, Laughter! Will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ukiah Presbyterian Church on the corner of Perkins and Dora Street.

Al-Anon invites anyone trouble by someone's drinking to drop by and find out how Al-Anon can help them, says Willits Al-Anon representative Jane G. For anyone wondering whether they would benefit from attending the daylong event should call Jane G. at 459-4436.

The 20-questions in the Are You Troubled By Someone's Drinking are one way to help people determine whether Al-Anon can help them. Al-Anon is a support group for those dealing with a person with a drinking problem. The meetings are strictly confidential; members never reveal who was at the meeting or what was said. There is no pressure to speak and while it is a spiritual fellowship, it is not a religious one.

"Alcoholics and alcohol abusers attract more public attention, but their families and friends also suffer long-term effects from alcoholism and their recovery may be essential to the alcoholic's recovery," according to Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D a leading researcher in the field. "Alcoholism is a family disease. While it is important for the family to support the alcoholic's recovery, it is also important for members of the family to get involved in their own recovery. Family recovery decreases the chances that the children of alcoholics will repeat the pattern and engage in unhealthy relationships," says Ackerman.

While anyone can attend any of the weekly Wednesday and Saturday Al-Anon meetings in Willits, most newcomers to Al-Anon speak of fear associated with attending that first meeting. A Day in Al-Anon is a way for the public to get information, speak with volunteers and explore whether they are ready for Al-Anon to help them. A special workshop is planned for those new to Al-Anon.

"It's a program for sanity, clarity and understanding," Jane G. says. "We learn the difference between my business and somebody else's problem. As much as we love them, we can't change anybody but ourselves. We learn to detach ourselves with love.

Failure to resolve the issues of living with, or having lived with, an alcoholic perpetuates the disease," Jane G. explains. "Seventy-five percent of the children of alcoholics will become one or marry one."

And the pattern of alcoholism and enabling continues:

"If it's a man (who's alcoholic) the wife makes excuses at work; picks him up and puts him to bed. Enabling. The more we do that, the longer before he has to face the consequences of his own actions. We need that energy to help ourselves.

Helping yourself through the Al-Anon program is not a cure," Jane G. says, "but a slow recovery with the help of peers, rather than paid counselors or therapists. Sometimes you get more from peers with the same problem than from a professional.

The alternative to recovery," she says, "is becoming martyred and resentful of the alcoholic in your life."

Jane G. invites anyone interested in learning more about Al-Anon to contact her at 459-4436 or drop in on Saturday's Day in Al-Anon and take the first step toward recovery.

source: The Willits News

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