You hear and read that alcohol abuse is a “family disease,” yet I feel it’s not treated that way. We have AA, Al-Anon and Alateen meetings daily, with family members going to their separate gatherings behind closed doors; alcoholics to the AA meeting, the parents and siblings to the Al-Anon meeting, and the teens to the Alateen meetings.
When I went, our group kept everything that was discussed to ourselves; we were told not to share what we learned with the alcoholic or discuss our feelings about what we heard at the meeting. These words of advice, made me feel more separated from my alcoholic husband. Each person in a family needs to help each other understand how they enable the substance abuser and what to do to show the alcoholic that he/she is loved and has the support of the family. It’s not them that we hate, but the disease. Some professionals work only with the addict, cutting out the family entirely and leaving the substance abusers to fight their own battle, even when they’re not in a healthy emotional state to make good choices about their lives.
What is a family member taught behind these so-called closed-door meetings? “The alcoholic has to do it on their own. They have to reach rock bottom. Don’t worry about them, take care of yourself. Go on with your life as normally as you can. Separate yourself.” This belief is actually teaching every family member not to communicate and not work together with their loved one who is on a death path.
This belief, which I had been taught for years, that the addicted have to reach rock bottom, is so sad. Lori and Richie’s rock bottoms were their deaths. There is no need to let people get so deep into their addiction that they reach the stage of dying. They suffer emotional and mental pain, which can institutionalize them and lead to suicide, when a family can pull together as a unit to give the love and support from the very moment of the discovery that there is a problem. Alcohol and drugs become a problem when they cause serious disruptions in any form with the substance abuser’s lives or others around them.
After losing my husband, Richie, and my daughter, Lori, from their alcohol abuse, I needed answers to what I did wrong or could have done better to have helped them with their alcohol addiction. I wanted to know what they felt with their sufferings. How was I going to get the answers?
Finally, I found a website (no longer in use) for writers wanting answers for certain topics. I wrote asking for people struggling with alcohol and drug problems to become contributors to my new Narrative Non-Fiction What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict. I sent them twenty-three questions about what they needed from family, counselors, doctors, and society and open up honestly on what they believe works and doesn’t in recovery. What do they need from us?
I found thirty-four contributors who opened up about their private lives on how old they were when they started with their alcohol or drug use, if other family members were alcoholics, did relatives die from the disease, why did they start, what made them want help, was the recovery programs working, and what do they need from family to help them turn to professionals for help to reach sobriety? What do they feel family is not doing to help them? What advice to they give to other alcohol and drug users?
This is a family book for all. Look no further. The answers are coming directly from the people suffering from addiction with alcohol and drugs. Who knows better than the people living this life.
It’s a great book to bring into the school systems, libraries, businesses for employee missing too many workdays from substance abuse, families struggling with trying to cope and handle the alcoholic or drug users. It’s an eye-opener for counselors to learn what the addict needs for recovery. It’s about them, not us.
It’s an educational book for other substance abusers and a way for those who can’t open up to their counselors with their past hurts. It’s the alcoholic, drug user, and prescription user over-dosing talking to all of us. Thirty-four short stories, all different, so readers can relate to one if not more with the contributor’s suggestions on the tools they need to recover.