Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Alcoholism - A Killer Disease

My Saturday Al-Anon group was reminded again that alcoholism is a disease that kills. A member shared that her spouse had died. I don't know why we were shocked, but it so seldom happens because most of us have loved ones in recovery. But it could have happened in my life and it still could. I need to be grateful again for recovery, mine as well as others.

It's hard for me to understand that alcoholism is a disease. After all, it's treatment is mostly spiritual rather than with medications or chemotherapy. It is unlike cancer which a close family member is now battling. We don't expect her to get herself to all her doctor and chemo appointments while taking care of children and household chores. Instead, we are willing and able to assist in any way we can. We believe this will help her get better.

With the alcoholics, however, we have had to detach with love and not enable them by trying to fix them or the consequences of their drinking. In the past, this kind of help has only prolonged the disease, keeping them from hitting their bottoms and getting the real help they need. We have had to let go and let God and take care of ourselves, which is the best way to be prepared when the alcoholics ask for help.

We still need to be cautious that we only do for them what they can't do for themselves and what the God of our understanding asks of us. Often this is simply encouraging them in their recovery and spending more time alone while they go to meetings and take on service positions. One of the best ways I've dealt with this aspect is to do my own service work, including positions and sponsoring. This almost always works to get me out of self-pity and the blame game.

After all, I don't blame my loved one for having cancer. I just accept it and take care of myself so I am able to help when I am asked. In this way, dealing with the two diseases is the same. If I let myself go to pot, I'm no good to anybody. I practice "live and let live" so I don't push my opinions on anyone or hover unnecessarily. And sometimes I have to say "no" because I have made another commitment or simply need to have some fun.

My God doesn't expect me to do it all or do it all alone. I also have to ask for help. It's exhausting to deal with someone else's life-threatening disease. Right now, for example, I caught a virus and am still recovering from a secondary infection. I've had to let my housework go and say "yes" to activities that get me out in the sun and out of my head. I've had to take life one day at a time, never knowing from day to day how I will feel or what will be asked of me.

In this way, I know that God will give me the courage and strength I need to do his/her will just for today. I need not go into the future, worrying about someone dying. Neither need I go into the past, regretting my past behavior or thinking about all the woulda, coulda, shouldas. Right now, in this moment, all is well. I'm feeling better. My sick loved one is having a good day. And my spouse is sober. It is easy to have an attitude of gratitude.

It helps me to remember how fragile life is and how much our 12-step programs have helped us hang on to the gift of life. Help me, God, to never forget that alcoholism, like cancer, is a deadly disease.

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At Monday, June 01, 2009 11:57:00 AM, Blogger Syd said...

There have been a couple of alcoholic relatives who have died from the disease. And several spouses of Al-Anon members. It makes me realize how heartbreaking alcoholism is for so many.

At Monday, June 01, 2009 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Gin said...

There is a lady in my Al-anon group that lost her husband last year. When she told me I started crying. Although it is a sad reality of this disease it is still a shock to hear it. Thank you for this post. It's a nice reminder.

At Monday, June 01, 2009 2:56:00 PM, Blogger Cindy said...

Yes, alcoholism is life and death.

At Tuesday, June 09, 2009 6:53:00 PM, Blogger Al-anon again said...

Good timing of that post, I just started a blog again on al-anon.
My hubby nearly died in April his massive drinking caused a perferated ulcer and he started just puking up loads of blood and it would not stop.
I honestly thought his time was up.
You can read what happened next on my blog...too long to list here.
I have been learning to detach which is hard, he has made it two weeks now without a drink...this is huge.

At Sunday, June 21, 2009 4:42:00 AM, Anonymous Josh said...

Last Friday I went to a meeting and it was all laughs and smiles. The next morning the chair talked about her mother's death from liver sclerosis. It is important for me to laugh in recovery but also to cry - and remember that this is probably the biggest killer disease in the world.



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