When I told people around me I planned to attend an Al-Anon workshop, I got some surprising reactions. Over 120 million people are impacted by the substance or alcohol disorder of a loved one. That’s pretty much everyone, but the stigma still makes people unwilling to be associated with it.
Betty Thought Of Her Mother-in-law
My trainer, Betty, is concerned about her husband, Jeff, an orphaned child of an alcoholic, who happens to be a drinker himself. Betty talks a lot about her worries that Jeff’s drinking may escalate into full blown alcoholism. Betty hadn’t heard about Al Anon and didn’t think about herself. When I told her about the workshop I was attending the next day, her reaction was surprise that her mother-in-law or husband, who had been so affected by the husband/dad’s alcoholism hadn’t used it. It did not occur to Betty that Al Anon might help answer her burning questions about her own husband.
Dan Dismissed It
A colleague, Dan, has an alcoholic father who died of the disease. Now he has a heroin addict/alcoholic daughter, Ellie, who lost custody of her two young children a year ago. Dan believes Ellie is “pretty much” sober now because she’s just taking methadone, is drinking a six pack a day, and maybe smokes some pot. Dan believes Ellie is okay to get her children back because she was so much worse before. Dan hadn’t heard of Al-Anon, nor was he willing to explore what it was all about.
Oliver Didn’t Think His Wife’s Addiction Aad Anything To Do With Him
Oliver’s young wife Bela went to rehab soon after they married. An intellectual about most things, Oliver did not do any research on addiction. Oliver celebrated Bela’s graduation from rehab by taking her away to a weekend with friends where everyone partied nonstop, a recipe for instant relapse. Oliver doesn’t think addiction is his problem. Addiction was her problem. So Bela had to leave him to get sober.
So, just from the reactions of these three colleagues, it was clear to me that even with the epidemic of addiction worsening, people still resist addiction education. They just don’t want to be associated with the disease. That’s too bad. When all of us who are impacted by addiction feel free to learn about the dynamics of addiction and how it changes a family, we will find solutions and begin to heal. I hope it happens soon.
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