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Thread: AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

  1. #1
    Apprentice of Doom Shahaku's Avatar
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    AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

    So. I've been attending Al-Anon stuff for the last year or so off and on. And I have a lot of mixed feelings.

    It's nice having someplace to go to just vent. And the meetings do that. And the retreats that I've been to have been pretty awesome. They've been fun and insightful.

    But, I've had issues to. It really doesn't seem family friendly for being a family geared program. I can't find a single meeting that's okay with me bringing my toddler (which I understand why they wouldn't want her in the room). I was shot down when I offered to hold a parent friendly (kids allowed) meeting myself if I had to. Our area has probably 10-15 different meeting times and places. The ones that work for a working parent are usually kind of late. Meaning I'd have to stay up late and get up early because of work to attend them, and again, the toddler would be crabby the whole time for being up that late even if she could attend. When I talked to my sponsor (I was all gung ho to start with) she asked about getting a babysitter. I'm not made out of money. She doesn't have children and doesn't understand how expensive that would get, even once a week. I'd be looking at $20/week. $40/paycheck. Babysitters around here want $10/hr. I could put her in gymnastics for that. She asked about family watching her. I told her that the only family close enough were the alcoholics who are the reason I'm in the program. "So... you're not okay with them watching her?" No, I'm not okay with alcoholics watching my daughter at night. They start drinking as soon as they get home from work. She finally offered to put me in touch with another couple having the same problem after going round and round for over an hour. But, I explained, I'm not okay with strangers watching my kids and neither is my husband. And it takes a couple years to get out of that stranger category for us.

    Which in a way brings me to my other big issue. I guess I would call it complacency. They are complacent about the behavior of the alcoholics in their lives. They basically seem to shove it under a rug. She wanted me to have my daughter (1-2 yo) stay with a couple drunks for a couple of hours every week. She really pushed that I let them watch her. Even though we've got them flat out drunk a few times with her and we had to put a stop to it. The whole powerless over alcohol thing seems to go to far. It's a rhetoric of "I'm powerless so I might as well not fight it." They basically are encouraging you to change how you view the behavior because nothing you do is going to change it. Which on one level I get, because I've seen it all my life. Addicts never really change. They always go back. They're always going to have issues. (Based on my family) But, I've never once heard them offer advice on how to get out of an abusive relationship. In fact, when I first described how abusive my mother could be (mentally and emotionally) and that I was thinking of cutting of contact with her, my sponsor basically said, just put up with for at least six more months, the program should be working for you by then. And that honestly seems dangerous to me.

    So, my question is this. Have any of you had experience with a 12 step program or Al-Anon? Did you like it? Did it work for you? Does this sound like it might just be my area? Because while some of it I truly enjoy, I've got some serious concerns and am interested in a somewhat unbiased opinion.
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    Re: AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

    I went to AlAnon for a short period of time. My ex-wife was an addict and I thought it might help me learn to deal with it.
    Dealing with the problems of an addict in your life seems to be the last thing on the minds of those people. I dropped out after a short time because I was a witch - someone who had learned to deal with events in my life. All these people wanted to do was be victims. When I was young my mother taught me that if something is important enough to complain about then it is important enough to act upon. I took action to solve my problem. I removed the problem from my life. I took back my happiness and lived my life the way I felt was necessary for my health and well being. After 13 years of living with an addict I divorced her. She is still a practicing addict to this day. There is no way that I could have lived that way and I am much better off without that drain in my life. It was expensive and painful but it had to happen for me to be who I am.

    Looking back I only remember people whining about their situation and wallowing in self pity, allowing themselves to be victims of another persons problem. That is not me.

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    Eldritch Priestess Willow's Avatar
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    Re: AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

    I was actually talking about this recently with a former professor of mine.

    There has actually been surprisingly few proper scientific studies done on the effectiveness of 12 step programs and al anon. There is a lot of red tape and challenges that come with the territory (maintaining anonymity and confidentiality, maintaining contact with individuals over 30 year spans, etc...), and there's also been some references that researchers have been told they shouldn't pursue the study by spokespeople for the program.

    The point is, a lot of sources have been saying (over the past few years at least) that there's a lot of conflicting reports about the effectiveness of 12 step programs. Some say that 95% of individuals who attend meetings willingly, regularly and long-term will not relapse. Other studies show little to no effectiveness. The majority will of course be somewhere in the middle, and recovery rates will also hinge on other factors such as the availability of a solid family/friend support network, financial resources, quality of life, job satisfaction, additional one-on-one therapy, etc...


    Regarding recovery processes and familial/friend support and healing options, there really is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to something that affects people on so many levels. It's going to come down to what really works for you, what works for your family, what your values are and then determining your options. I can't claim to know your particular situation, you're the only one who is going to be able to accurately answer all those questions. But if this program isn't working out for you, it's as good a time as any to start exploring other options to help keep things above water.


    I don't have any personal experience with 12 step programs aside from sitting in a few open meetings for course-related experience, but maybe my random discussions with old friends could be of use.

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    Re: AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

    Bit of a necro but it's something I've been thinking about recently. I went to a couple of AA meetings in the years proceeding me quiting drinking. I felt uncomfortable as I was the youngest dude there by several decades. Plus, the faith deal really turned me off. This is the longest round of sobriety I have accomplished and have not been to a meeting. I almost feel if I went to a meeting I would start drink again. They just keep the thoughts of alcohol to the forefront of mine.

    I also found AA to be pretty cultish as well. "There is no sobriety but through the meetings".

    I can't deal with all that.

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    Re: AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

    I had about a 2 year period where I had to attend weekly AA meetings for a drunk driving conviction 17 years ago. I, being an athiest at the time, found it offensive having to listen while everyone recites a christian prayer at the beginning and, while everyone holds hands, at end of every meeting. When I brought it up I was told you don't have to say the prayer. I said but I have to hold hands with all of you while you do, and christianity offends me. It's like I'm condoning that religion. In case you haven't figured it out I was, back then, and mostlty because I am gay, very anti-christianity.

    Then I learned that one of the steps requires the belief in a higher power. When I brought up I was athiest they told me it doesn't matter what the higher power is, it can be a chair or a salt shaker, I couldn't believe I was in for 2 years of this. Then when I brought up how things that worry me make me want to drink, they tell me to let go and let god. Basicaly give all of you problems to god, pray about it, and let god take care of it. Again how does that help an athiest. It still wouldn't help me now, even though I believe in the gods, because I don't don't believe the gods do anything to interfere with this universe.

    Basicaly what kept me sober was the fear that violation of probation, drinking not allowed, would put me in jail. But even with that fear, and the help I got from the meetings, mostly as a place to discuss my troubles and have the support of others, I still drank a few times in those 2 years.

    At AA they tell you that you have to work the steps. The first step, admitting I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. Was easy I drank, I wanted to drink as often as possible and my drinking caused problems to make my life unmanageable, problems with the law. But the second step, come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity, was impossible for me, as I was athiest. I know it doesn't sound like it by reading that, that they mean God. I thought the AA support group could be the power greater than myself, but, it can't. It literally has to be that there is some higher power that can help you be sober. So I was basicaly done working the steps at step two since you can't skip steps.

    And just so you know step 3 is make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understand him. And steps 5, 6, and 7 all make references to talking to god, being ready for god to work his magic on you and asking god to work his magic on you. Again, will never happen with me. Step 11 is to use prayer and meditation to improve our contact with god, seeking only knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out. Another no go. Step 12 is about how the steps caused a spiritual awakening and for us to carry this message to other alcoholics. Being an athiest I was going to have no spiritual awakening and why would any athiest, or polydeist as I am now, ask others to do all this with a higher power.

    steps 4, 8, 9, 10 are somewhat useful I'm not sure how much they help alcoholics stay sober, but they probably work as a sort of soul cleansing. They involve taking a moral inventory of yourself, making a list of people you have wronged and preparing to, and then making, apologies to said people except when it hurts them or others. Step 5, in addition to telling god, requires you to admit to yourself and another person the exact nature of your wrongs.

    To me AA is more for christians, even though they say everyone is welcome, and you can worship any higher power you want, they do, as I said, open and close meetings with common christian prayers. AA is, as I understand it, is as much about spirituality as it is about staying sober. In AA you can't have one without the other, and they make a point of it.

    All this being said, have those meetings helped me? Not as much as group or individual counseling has. Mainly, I think, Because those didn't place such a strong emphasis on religion.
    Last edited by pillar; 13 Apr 2016 at 16:23.

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    Re: AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

    I don't even care about the God thing. That's just to many steps, to much structure, and to much complication. I'd rather drink.

  7. #7
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    Re: AlAnon and 12 Step Programs

    Like I said I got more out of individual counseling and group counseling at the local mental health clinic, than I did out of AA. The mental health place was all about staying sober, not all this other bs like you say.

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