Helping the hidden victims of addiction

The Rockingham Al-Anon group offers discreet and practical support to the family members of alcoholics.
The Rockingham Al-Anon group offers discreet and practical support to the family members of alcoholics.

Help is readily available to alcoholics prepared to put up their hand and ask, but imagine the despair and embarrassment of a partner, child, sibling or best friend as they try to cope with the addiction and its devastation on their lives.

Asking for help is the key, but where do you go for discreet, sincere support?

Marion (not her real name) has been a member of Rockingham’s Al-Anon Family Groups since the early ’90s after starting with the Armadale group in 1981 at the insistence of her sister.

During an interview with the Courier, Marion said her husband, who is now sober, was her reason for seeking help.

Thirty years later, she is still reaping and sowing the benefits of learning how to live with alcoholism at Al-Anon.

‘I still need it (Al-Anon). Not just for myself, but to help others by sharing my story,’ she said.

The grandmother attended meetings for a year before her husband started going to Alcoholics Anonymous, but the family’s journey is ongoing and unique.

‘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.

‘Al-Anon 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 group is anonymity, where only first names are used and what you hear at meetings is never repeated.

Attendees are encouraged to take one step at a time and on the day I attended, one of the lessons from the Al-Anon handbook was the value of not imagining the worst; don’t waste your energy on ‘what-ifs”. In other words, rather than worrying that something bad might happen, deal with problems as they arise.

This sort of practical advice is available at groups that meet weekly all over the metropolitan area.