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Taking the First Step in Alanon

By Edited Dec 19, 2014 2 2

Don't Let Alcoholism or Addiction Destroy You

Do you feel as if you have tried everything in order to change the life of an alcoholic or drug abuser? When a newcomer walks into the doors of their first Alanon meeting and hears someone read the 12 Steps, they usually feel overwhelmed. I know that, like of millions of people who went before me,  I was a wreck over thirty years ago when I first joined Alanon, a fellowship for friends and family members of alcoholics. By the time most people are desperate enough to seek out Alanon, they have probably spent years dealing with an alcoholic or drug addict.  They have tried everything they could think of to help the person who is abusing drugs or alcohol.  They have pleaded, begged, intervened and may have even paid for rehab.  They feel utterly desperate for a solution. 

The alcohol abuser or drug addict might be your parent, spouse, boyfriend, sibling, child or friend. Whoever they are, they have been creating chaos in your life. Your first reaction to Alanon may be disappointment. You just want the secret to "fixing" the alcoholic's problems, not your own. In fact, you may feel that you have been doing pretty well, considering your circumstances!  Alanon's First Step tells us that we need to admit that we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable. But, what does that mean?

Once you accept that you are powerless over alcoholics and the substances they abuse, you have taken the First Step in Alanon

The first hurdle you may have to overcome when you attend Alanon meetings is to realize that there is no magic cure for alcoholism. That is what the First Step means when it says that we must admit that we are powerless over alcohol. Many Alanon members actually understand this step more easily when they mentally replace the word "alcohol" with "alcoholics".  After all, most Alanon members understand that alcohol, by itself, is not their problem. Their problem is the behavior of the alcoholic … a behavior that they are desperate to change. When I joined Alanon, I didn't expect the alcoholics in my life to completely stop drinking; I just wanted them to develop some self-control. It was months before I realized how impossible that was for them. It took me even longer to realize that, by trying to control someone else's alcohol addiction, I was setting myself up for failure.


The next problem you face when joining Alanon is accepting that you are not only powerless over alcohol and the alcoholic, but you are also powerless over many other areas of your life that you have been trying hard to control. You may feel that you have been working hard, handling the household finances, keeping everything running smoothly, dealing with the alcoholic's job problems, and covering up for their lapses in judgment, while still taking care of the home and children. You feel that, considering the circumstances, you have been doing a pretty good job. How can you be powerless?


Think about how the alcoholic continually disrupts all your plans. It doesn't matter whether the alcoholic (or drug addict) is your spouse, parent, teenage child, adult child, or some other close friend or relative.  All of these people can cause you to have a lot of pain and misery.  In fact, that sometimes seems to be their specialty.  The alcoholic may spend money on liquor that was meant for other obligations; he or she may disrupt social events, embarrass you or the children, lose jobs, get arrested, argue with relatives, behave unreliably or cause other problems. Although you keep trying to control everything, you may feel that you are at the end of your rope. Your whole life is out of control! When you are honest with yourself, you begin to realize that you truly do feel powerless. This is not the home life that you always dreamed of!


If you are feeling especially upset and troubled, you may find it helpful to read Alanon books in addition to going to the meetings.  Some of the books can be purchased at your meeting.  However, you may also want to use this direct link to Alanon books from Amazon.com.

  This is a wonderful way to keep your thoughts under control between meetings.


Once you think about how powerless you are over the alcoholic or drug addict and all the problems he or she has created, you begin to realize just how unmanageable your life has become. The First Step of Alanon begins to come into focus as you realize that you are not really managing your life, you are just barely hanging on. Now, you have finally reached the point where you are ready to admit that you are powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable. You have taken the Alanon First Step. Subconsciously, you were taking it the moment you felt desperate enough to seek out the comfort of strangers in an Alanon meeting. Your journey in Alanon has just begun.


To learn more about Alanon and how it can help you through difficult times, you may want to read the article links below:


Alanon and Honesty


Free Alanon Information


Loving the Addicted Teen


Avoid Holiday Alcohol Abuse


photo courtesy of photoxpress

This Is The Book That I Have Found Most Helpful

Al-Anons Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions
Amazon Price: $13.42 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 19, 2014)
There are many other Alanon books available on Amazon, too. You can either purchase this book of daily meditations or you can click on the blue title, above, and you will be taken directly to the Amazon website where you an search for other choices.


Apr 23, 2010 6:18pm
Encouraging words for people to know they are not alone.TX for sharing this info.
Sep 15, 2010 12:27am
They say that taking the first step is the hardest, in any area of your life. This is also true in Alanon ... but you feel much better when you begin to take these 12 steps to improve your life!
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