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It has come to my attention that it seems like many people don't know the difference between Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. I guess this confusion  is understandable , since Al-Anon has a really ambiguous name.

What's the difference?  Well let's quote wikipedia which is mostly quoting AA and Al-Anon literature:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was  founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. AA states that its "primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety". it is a mutual aid group, a nonprofit charity, that does not endorse political causes or commercial products.
Got that?  AA is for alcoholics.
Al-Anon/Alateen, known as Al-Anon Family Groups, is an international "fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems." They "help families of alcoholics by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic." Alateen is part of Al-Anon and is their Twelve-step program of recovery for young people affected by another's drinking, generally aged 13 to 19 years. Alateen groups are sponsored by Al-Anon members." Al-Anon was formed in 1951 by Anne B. and Lois W., wife of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill W. They recognized the need for such an organization as family members living with AA members began to identify their own pathologies associated with their family members' alcoholism.
Al-Anon is for families of drunks.  The Al-Anon member does not have to be the spouse of a drunk, and the drunk does not have to be an AA member. For example, the Al-Anon member can be the child of a drunk who is no longer alive.

Keep in mind these are not the only paths to recovery.  Maybe your closest support groups has people in them you don't like.  But people who mock and ridicule the notion of organized recovery groups are often the people that overdose and die.  Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins because it really is deadly, so don't be the scoffer who avoids recovery and poisons the well for others.  

Alcoholics Anonymous is for this guy hallucinating the little animals. For a lot of people it really does have to get this bad, but many people also quit drinking before they "hit bottom."  In this scene from "Lost Weekend," Ray Milland has tried to stop drinking after checking himself out of the mental ward for alcoholics.  The patients warned him that the worst part of withdrawal (the DTs) was "the little animals" that come out at night.  Get this man a drink!

And Al-Anon is for Jane Wyman, the gal who thinks Ray Miland can be changed by nothing more than the love of a good woman, because that good woman needs help.  Note that in 1945, it was still cool for a smart woman to chase a terminal alcoholic believing she could make him sober.  In the popular culture, it was not considered odd for a woman to pursue a man half dead from booze as if she were a heat seeking missile.

Al-Anon is also for the adult children of alcoholics, because the person who has a relationship with an alcoholic was very likely also raised by an alcoholic family. Alcoholism has profound affects  on the next generations, and being attracted to addicts is a  generic "daddy issue"  for the children of addicts. We call this "codependency,"  and that's what Al-Anon is for.

It's only in the last 50 years that this knowledge has entered our culture.  If someone remade "Lost Weekend," it would be impossible to show Jane Wyman chasing Ray Milland  without commenting on her own character.  Just like it would be impossible to remake the movies where virginal Doris Day chases playboy Rock Hudson, even if we didn't know she was trying to turn a gay dude straight.

The reason I am making these points is that many people on DailyKos don't  know the difference between AA and Al-Anon, even though we get a fair number of diaries from people explaining their brutal childhoods.

These programs may not be the path to recovery for some people. But if they haven't bothered to learn the difference or go off with a hair trigger reaction, that means they have not even looked into recovery programs.

Consider this recent exchange, where someone wrote a very nice heart rending diary about their awful childhood, which featured addicted, violent parents.  I mentioned that it would be a good day to go to an Al-Anon meeting after the experience of writing that diary.  I figured the person that wrote the diary would be hip to Al-Anon, although I was concerned about the  risk of starting a pointless HR pile-on, because (IMHO) people that love HR pile-ons are likely to be people that are avoiding recovery programs of their own.

Here's my comment:

Keep Going To Meetings (4+ / 0-)
Al-Anon and other groups are out there, no reason to go it alone on the weekend.
Many people understood what I was saying, but it also provoked this response:
 ? (5+ / 0-)
Having a couple of drinks and being upset does not equate to having serious addiction problems, unless of course you have info of a private nature.

To the contrary in fact, the diarist seems to me to have very good self preservation instincts for herself and great protective instincts towards her nieces/nephews.

The diarist is also a wonderful writer.

And there we see someone that knows nothing about recovery (but being awfully "sensitive" and self righteous) jumping in to imply I'm somehow outing someone as an addict or something  ("unless of course you have info of a private nature") even though the diariest just wrote a long autobiographical piece.  What I wrote does not conflict with either their anonymity of the internet or anonymity as it is practiced in AA or Al-Anon. This person has no idea what Al-Anon is.

Anyway, we straightened that out, but one of the people that recced that complaint was the author of the diary.  let's make that clear - they wrote a long diary about their hellish childhood and addicted abusive parents, but they don't know what Al-Anon is.  

That seems to be pretty common - people who want to spill their guts on line who aren't even curious about recovery.  And there are people that are anxious to quash any mention of recovery, by making the accusation that recovery is only for addicts, and just mentioning recovery programs deserves an HR (not in this example, but it's certainly happened).  I'm not going to go into that subject, except to point out that there is a huge gap in the knowledge of people that need this information the most.

Another issue that's beyond the scope of this diary is that  when someone does mention being in a recovery program, there is a good chance they will get hooted at by someone that mocks their recovery program. What's that? Envy that someone else would try? When I mentioned this to my GF, who is sober 25 years, she basically said "That's exactly how people avoid recovery!" Follow me for a future diary "What Is A Dry Drunk?" where we will explore that issue further.  

In closing, I would like to make a couple additional points:

1) That recovery would be an excellent subject for DailyKos groups.
2) There are many people here using the internet for the behaviors that probably help them evade recovery.
3) DailyKos recovery groups can help people the most by reminding them to get off the computer and go attend meetings when their rage and self righteousness is spiraling out of control.
4) DailyKos could also provide a valuable way to connect with other people who are in recovery.

I would like to see some people take the lead and start some groups on DailyKos.  I can't, because I don't have that background.  

Originally posted to bernardpliers on Mon May 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness.

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