When someone you love has a problem with alcoholism or addiction, your life is affected. You probably spend a large amount of time and energy obsessing about the alcoholic or addict. You may feel a wide range of unpleasant emotions, including anger, rage, fear or anxiety. You may worry yourself sick. You have a hard time putting effort and energy into your own life.
In time, you realize that nothing you say or do is making much of a difference in the behavior of the alcoholic or addict. Whether or not your loved one chooses to get help, the best thing you can do is get help for yourself. One of the best places to get help and learn new coping skills is by going to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.
What Is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon is a fellowship for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s problem with drinking. It is geared specifically toward those who love an alcoholic. Nar-Anon is specifically directed at those who love drug addicts.
Attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon can be helpful to you whether or not the alcoholic or addict in your life is still drinking or drugging. These groups can also be helpful to you even if your relationship with the addicted person has ended. The nature of your relationship with the alcoholic or addict doesn’t matter. He could be your spouse, friend, parent, child, boss or acquaintance. What matters is that your own life has been affected.
What to Expect at Al-Anon or Nar-Anon
Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are spiritual programs, not religious programs. They are both 12-step programs. Through these programs you will learn to rely on a power greater than yourself, and you are free to define this power in any way that makes sense to you. Many members consider the group itself to be their higher power. It is at these groups that you will realize, possibly for the first time, that you are not alone.
At meetings, people will share their experiences, strengths and hopes with each other, but no one will try to dictate what you should do. You will learn how to detach from the problems created by the alcoholic or addict and to put the focus on yourself and your own life.
There are several different formats of meetings, including discussion meetings, step meetings, speaker meetings and beginners’ meetings. There are also online meetings for people who have a hard time getting to face-to-face gatherings.
What You Won’t Learn at Al-Anon or Nar-Anon
When you attend Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings, the one thing you won’t learn is how to make the alcoholic or addict get sober. You are completely powerless over his or her choices. There are no quick fixes when it comes to the disease of addiction, and the unfortunate reality is that the other person may never choose to get sober.
That doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a happy or peaceful life. The focus of these support groups won’t be on the other person. It will be on you. You will learn to get in touch with your own goals and dreams and stop trying to force the addict or alcoholic to do what you want him or her to do.
No. 1 Reason to Go to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon
The top reason to go to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon is to learn how to focus on your own life again. With the love and fellowship of other people who truly understand the ways addiction has affected you, you will learn how to practice powerlessness and, most importantly, how to take care of yourself.
For some people, the changes that happen to them by working the 12 steps will make the addict or alcoholic want to get sober. But there is no guarantee that will happen.
It is possible to be happy in your own life whether the alcoholic or addict ever gets sober or not. With the help of Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, you will learn what you need to know to find solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems and to experience inner peace and the belief that everything is going to be all right.