A LOCAL support group for those affected by problem drinkers wants people to know they are around, despite their name, reports KEVIN QUINN.
Al-Anon meet every Monday in Glenrothes, offering support to families and friends of problem drinkers anonymously.
Marty Smith from Al-Anon wants to dispel their local anonymity, so people can get help to deal with this common problem.
She said: “Considering it’s such a terrible situation that needs tackled we want more people to know we are here.
“Our title says we are anonymous, but we are not hidden away. We have weekly meetings at the meeting room opposite St Luke’s.
“We are also able to go to open Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and sharing their problems with them is really quite amazing.
“Listening to both sides, it helps us see more clearly what they have been involved in and we get to know what alcoholism is all about.
“With alcoholism, nobody really talks about what is going on.”
Marty spoke of a moment that she will never forget.
She said: “When I worked with Age Concern I had spoke to the boss about the concerns of alcohol abuse.
“I wondered if I could go and talk to them about Al-Anon and how I had been affected by the problem.
“After the meeting this old lady came out of the hall after me with her walking stick and there was tears running down her face.
“I will never forget what she said to me.
“She said to me- ‘all my life I thought it was my fault’.
“That has never left me. It’s very distressing.”
More than 50,000 Scots received an ‘alcohol brief intervention’ in 2009-10, helping them address their drinking before it causes lasting health damage, according to figures published by ISD Scotland last year.
Marty revealed more about what Al-anon, which is funded by donations, do locally.
She said: “We go to Auchmuty High School once a year. We cover 12, 13 year-olds. When we go in there, you would be amazed how I can point and say who in the audience is affected, just when I’m telling them of my experience.
“These kids need to know that help is out there. It doesn’t cost anything, and nothing leaves the room. I just wish people would have the courage to come in.
“They might not say much at first but they will get a lot from it.
“For the size of the problem there is very few groups like us.”
Al-anon’s Glenrothes Group meets every Monday at 7.30pm in the hall opposite St Luke’s Church.