Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Issues with Al-Anon

Sometimes I feel like Al-Anon is nothing more than a cult that brainwashes its members into staying in bad relationships. Obviously no one directly tells you to stay, but I certainly get that vibe from many, many people through their stories. And when I listen closely to those stories, their staying is concerning to me.

I have seen some people get help through Al-Anon. I know it works for some people. But I see people doing program instead of living life. Where is the joy in that? Where is the living?

"I didn't cause it, can't control it and can't cure it." That may be true for someone married to an alcoholic in terms of keeping the alcoholics blame in check. But I think we know more about alcoholism than when that slogan was created. There are things that directly or indirectly "cause" alcoholism - like sexual abuse, giving children alcohol and drugs at a young age, and raising your children in dysfunctional (and/or alcoholic) homes. If you look at the statistics, these are all known factors.

If we know there are causes to alcoholism, why aren't we doing a better job of protecting our children? I really don't want to just sit things out and wait until my kids are teenagers so they can join Alateen. That is not a solution that I am OK with.

And why aren't we demanding cures?

I for one am tired of alcoholism. I never want my children to become addicts or co-dependents.

I think there are some good points to Al-Anon, but like the Bible, I don't think everything should just be accepted verbatim. I think the organization needs to grow and change with the times.

And I think it should be said that Al-Anon does not work for everyone. It is not the cure-all. To say, "It works when you work it." is once again blaming the victim in my mind. Some people, like my grandma, will never accept the program. She tried it, but it was not for her. That does not make her less of a person. She is actually one of the most amazing people I know. (And she has never once just spurted back a quick slogan to make me feel better - she talks like a real person, without slogans.)

If Al-Anon were truly successful, we would already have generations without co-dependents and alcoholics 50+ years after its creation. But I continually see families who are active in Al-Anon and AA where the cycle continues.

If alcoholism is a "disease", why aren't those of us who have been affected so tremendously not demanding better answers?

I am not satisfied with a plate of platitudes.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I do want better ones.

1 comment:

  1. Sula, I have found that Al-Anon helps me to deal with myself and my reactions around the alcoholic as well as situations in life. It isn't about finding a cure for alcoholism. Al-Anon has taught me about choices--and to understand that I don't have to stay in a relationship with an alcoholic. If I choose to stay, then I need to look at why.

    I can only say that I stayed in my marriage for so long because I loved my life and wanted her to change. It was when I reached my own bottom of pain and insanity and told her I was leaving, that she started going to AA. Our relationship has improved since we both began our respective recovery programs. We are both much more understanding of each other.

    I have also learned that I don't judge what others do. If they choose to stay with an alcoholic, that's their decision.