by TGC Staff | May 10, 2001 12:00 am
Alcoholism is like a tornado. It can wreak havoc not only on the alcoholic but also among those closest to the one suffering from the disease. But there is hope. It's called Al-Anon.
Al-Anon is a free, anonymous resource dedicated solely to helping families and friends of alcoholics whose lives are affected by a problem drinker. It does not seek outside funding, affiliation or endorsement.
Since 1954, the American Medical Association has recognized alcoholism as a chronic, progressive disease.
Alcoholism's impact is so widespread it is difficult to comprehend the full extent of its devastation. Families, friends, neighbors, business associates, church congregations and others can be deeply affected by an alcoholic.
For every alcoholic, four other lives are affected. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 43 percent of adult Americans -- 76 million people -- have been deeply affected by someone else's drinking.
Members of families with an alcoholic use 10 times more sick leave than members of families in which alcoholism is not present. The monthly average health-care costs for families with an alcoholic can be as much as 21 times greater than families without an alcoholic.
Without Al-Anon, the damage would be far greater. Al-Anon is a mutual support group of relatives and friends of alcoholics who come together to share their experience, strength and hope to solve their common problems. Al-Anon believes that alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.
Based upon the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon came into existence in 1951. Alateen -- a related program for younger people who use the Al-Anon principles to recover from the effects of another's drinking -- was formed six years later.
Al-Anon and Alateen have spread around the world. Today, there are some 31,000 Al-Anon and Alateen groups in 112 countries. Each group has an average of 20 members. Members come from a variety of backgrounds. One out of three is employed in an executive/professional/managerial capacity; two out of three have a college education.
Al-Anon and Alateen groups can be found in nearly every community in the United States. Their meetings are confidential and supported by "passing the basket." While not a religious organization, Al-Anon does emphasize the importance of spiritual recovery based upon a higher power.
To learn more about Al-Anon and Alateen, write Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617, or click on www.al-anon.alateen.org. For worldwide meeting information, call 1-888-4-AL-ANON (425-2666).
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