Help is available to alcoholics prepared to put up their hand and ask, and they get encouragement from society when they do.
Imagine, however, the despair and embarrassment a partner, child, sibling or best friend might feel as they try to cope with the havoc the disease causes.
Where do they go for discreet, sincere support?
Marion (not her real name) started her journey with the Armadale Al-Anon (AA) Family Group in 1981 at her sister’s insistence and has been a stalwart of Rockingham’s since the early 90s.
Marion told Community that her husband, a former alcoholic, was her reason for seeking help and support.
Thirty years later, she is still reaping and sowing the benefits of learning to live with alcoholism.
‘I still need [AA]. Not just for myself, but to help others by sharing my story,’ she said.
The grandmother continued at the group for a year before her husband started attending AA meetings, and the family’s journey continues.
‘I thought my husband just drank too much now and then,’ she said.
‘I thought an alcoholic was someone you saw at the park with a bottle. But I started to realise he was an alcoholic.
‘There were a lot of mind games and he’d try to hide it from me and everyone else.
‘AA is a safe environment. We protect each other’s identity and don’t discuss anything that has been said at the meetings with anyone.’
At the core of the concept is anonymity.
Member use first names and do not repeat stories outside meetings.
They are encouraged to take one step at a time, avoid imagining the worst and wasting energy on ‘what ifs’, and to deal with problems as they arise.
This sort of advice is available at groups that meet weekly all over Perth.
– Armadale Alcoholics Anonymous (‘Rainbow’) meet on Wednesdays at 10.30am at St Matthews Anglican Church, 108 Jull Street.