Every individual who is active in alcoholism/addiction is impacting so many others in his/her life.

It not only is important for the alcoholic to get help but also the
family. Until this happens, life will never be quite the same and, for
some, the damage may take more time to heal. Do know that the toxic
environment alcoholism creates for a family does not have to stay this

The ramifications of alcoholism can be plentiful. Family, friends,
employers, co-workers and many others are affected. When a family is
dealing with alcoholism it is important for everyone to seek help
together. The stress from living with someone who is actively drinking
can be overwhelming. However, as the problems did not occur overnight,
it is going to take time, patience and effort from all who are involved.

Even if the alcoholic does not seek help, the family can get on the
road to recovery. It is important to put supports in place and stop
enabling the problem. Without recovery, all will continue to experience
negativity in their lives. Children could grow up to become adults with
significant issues themselves if their emotional problems go untreated
through the years. There also could be guilt, anxiety, depression,
distrust and loneliness that continue to thrive in those who do not
seek treatment.

It is important for those involved in the alcoholic's life to
develop an understanding of this disease. Without knowledge, we become
angry, resentful and depressed. Out of love, we try to fix the problem
even though it is out of our control.

Like the alcoholic, families also can be in denial. We tend to lose
perspective of our own lives as we get so wrapped up in the alcoholic's
and become preoccupied trying to control him. Often times we become a
part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

There are three things we can do to help ourselves:

1. Families need to learn about alcoholism and how best to deal with the disease.

2. Families need to realize it is not their fault. They did not cause it nor can they cure it.

3. Families need to get help in order to create a normal existence for themselves.

Through support groups offered by Al-Anon and Alateen and other
local service providers in our communities, families can learn to cope
with their environments and the negative consequences and can learn
ways to move forward with their lives.

Never forget that we have the choice to make changes in our lives,
and we need to take responsibility in making positive, constructive
choices, the same as the alcoholic.

Always remember:

 I did not cause it.

 I cannot cure it.

 I cannot control it.

 I can take care of myself/family.

 I can celebrate being me!

For more information regarding support groups available for families, visit www.al-anon.alateen.org.

For those suffering with alcoholism, it is important to seek
professional help and to attend support groups such as Alcoholics
Anonymous, www.aa.org, to assist with the path to recovery.