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Ask Ellie: Alcoholism touches people from all social strata

Al-Anon is an importance resource for family/friends of alcoholics who need their own supports

Dear Readers: Alcoholism touches a nerve in countless readers, including people of all social strata, financial conditions, and education levels.

Since I cannot include all reader responses, here are two that offer important information from those who’ve “been there.”

Reader 1: Regarding the wife fed up with her alcoholic ranting husband (Jan. 4):

“I grew up in an alcoholic home and despite everything I vowed not to be, ended up an alcoholic. I’m sober and in recovery today. Among the best advice I got was to attend Al-Anon, the sister 12-step group of Alcoholics’ Anonymous.

“It gave me understanding of the family disease and insights into choices I had in relation to the active alcoholic. And support from women and men who’d been in a similar situation.

“Through unconditional love and understanding, they’ve guided me through ways I could change my perspective and reactive behaviour toward the alcoholic, and adopt a more centred, rational, compassionate response.

“The boundaries I built for myself replaced the anger and frustration I used to feel. I now know that I didn’t cause the alcoholism, can’t change it and can’t cure it.

“I now treat the alcoholic I grew up with, with patience, tolerance and kindness. I hate the disease not the person.

“I hope this woman and her family find their way to Al-Anon. Whether she decides to leave the marriage or stay, she’ll have a deeper understanding of her own needs and boundaries. She’ll cease feeling guilty about her husband’s behaviour and reclaim her self-image through self-care and the support of many in her group.”

Ellie: I’ve written about Al-Anon many times in past columns too, because of the importance of family/friends of alcoholics finding their own supports.

Reader 2: “It’s essential that the husband read Alcohol Explained by William Porter, and his Alcohol Explained 2. Also, Alcohol Lied to Me by Craig Beck, and This Naked Mind by Annie Grace.

“Until fairly recently, 12-step programs were the only approach. I don’t deny that they’ve helped many thousands of people, and that’s great.

“However, they simply do not address the actual root of the problem — which is alcohol itself, its myriad physiological and subconscious mechanisms. Therapy and counseling have their place, but it’s the rare addict who’ll break free and remain sober through therapy.

“The books mentioned, and the online resources associated with them, finally explain what’s truly going on in the body and mind of problem drinkers, in simple, uncomplicated, everyday language. And using the words and experiences of those who’ve been there, then did the research into what’s actually going on biologically, chemically, psychologically, and socially.

“I know, because I suffered for nearly 30 years. I’m highly intelligent, and had tried everything. Nothing worked until I learned what alcohol actually is and does.

“I’m now gratefully free. I’m happy, my wife is happy, my friends, family and employers are happy. If it weren’t for these authors and their books and the online resources, I and all around me would still be suffering, and I’d be on my way to an early grave.

“So many are suffering, yet unaware of these newer resources to what’s traditionally been on offer.”

Ellie: There are many books on achieving sobriety, but ones with more insights through advanced research are a valuable addition.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Uncontrolled alcohol use negatively affects everyone in a family. Well-researched books offer new, motivating insights toward sobriety.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

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