Alcoholism is a family disease and it affects everyone's life. It doesn't matter what your relationship is with the alcoholic, your life can be affected by their drinking problem. Having an alcoholic or problem drinker in your life can not only cause anger, despair, and depression but you can become as ill as they are.
You may try to control their drinking behavior, make excuses to yourself and others for their behavior, and feel like it's your fault. Life doesn't have to be that way; there is something you can do for yourself, for your family, and yes, for the alcoholic in your life.
Al-Anon members consist of family, relatives and friends of alcoholics supporting and helping each other by practicing the Twelve Steps. Those who attend Al-Anon Groups learn that they can lead a happy life whether the problem drinker in their life gets help or not. It's comforting to know you're not alone, you can't control what others do, and there's something you can do about it. Al-Anon helps individuals living with an alcoholic in their lives find their own recovery from alcoholism.
It's odd to think about, if you're living with an alcoholic you think they need to recover from the disease of alcoholism, you don't realize that you need to find recovery also. We know they're addicted to alcohol but we don't realize we're addicted to the alcoholic. That's why Al-Anon is so beneficial for anyone that has an alcoholic in their life. You come to realize that the alcoholic isn't the only one that's changed, you have too.
Sharing similar experiences and stories with others who understand is very comforting but you soon realize that you can't control what others do or how they behave. The only one you can control is yourself, your behavior, and your choices. Attending meetings and working the 12 steps you also realize that you didn't cause their drinking, you can't control their drinking, and you can't cure them. It's not easy changing behaviors and letting go of things that aren't in your control. Members of Al-Anon know how hard it is and they know it can be done by offering help, strength, and hope to each other.
As stated above alcoholism affects the whole family not just the alcoholic. If a young person has a family member or friend in their life that's a problem drinker, they are affected in many ways from their drinking behavior. Alateen helps the young person understand what alcoholism is and helps them to heal from the emotional affects their drinking has caused. Alateen is an extension of Al-Anon and offers help to any young person that's affected by someone else's drinking.
So many times young people grow up thinking they're to blame for their parents drinking problem. Many young people have to grow up way too soon if one of their parents is an alcoholic. Everyone's life and experience with alcoholism is different. Some have to emotionally and physically take care of their parent who has a drinking problem.
Some young people have an older sibling that has a problem with alcohol; this is equally hard on the whole family. When there's alcoholism in the family it causes stress, anxiety and chaos to every family member. Each person in the family is affected differently but everyone needs help to recover from the effects alcoholism has on their life.
When young people attend Alateen meetings they receive support from one another. They talk about how alcoholism has affected their life and they're able to find solutions to their problems. It's extremely important for anyone but especially for a young person to have their feelings validated and they're able to do that at these meetings. Between the encouragements they offer each other, the caring support, and realizing they're not alone young people are able to separate themselves emotionally from the alcoholic in their life.
They help each other understand the principles of Alateen and how the 12 steps can benefit them in their lives. It makes a huge difference in a young person's life when they realize they can love the alcoholic in their life but it's ok to emotionally pull themselves away from the alcoholic's problems. They learn that they aren't at fault and that they're not responsible for another person's drinking problem. Through integrating the principles in the 12 steps young people learn ways to make their lives rewarding by developing their own potential without letting problems at home affect them and hold them back.
If you have an alcoholic in your life Al-Anon can help you too. Thousands of men, women, and young people have benefited from Al-Anon and Alateen. Even though there's someone in your life actively drinking you can break free of your own insanity from this disease. The best things you can do for yourself is to stop letting alcoholism run your life and start living life for yourself. You can't control their drinking or behavior but you can control your happiness and recovery.
The best thing you can offer your teenager if they're living with an alcoholic is Alateen. They will learn how to cope with problems they're having due to the alcoholic in their life. They'll learn they're not alone, that there are others going through similar situations. Instead of keeping stress, anxiety and sadness bottled up, your teen can have a place to go that's safe to vent their feelings. This is extremely therapeutic and necessary for their mental health and wellbeing. They will learn how to live a fulfilling happy life even though there may be an alcoholic in it.