A problem shared... a burden lightened

Help is available for family members who live with an alcoholic. The effect on them can be just as corrosive as it is on the problem drinker.
Help is available for family members who live with an alcoholic. The effect on them can be just as corrosive as it is on the problem drinker.

YOU may have a serious alcohol problem – although you drink only moderately, or not at all.

If someone in your family, or a close friend, is in the grip of alcohol abuse, it’s possible you are one of the hidden victims.

Alcoholism, as we know, can have devastating consequences for those with the illness. But the parallel impact on those living with them can be just as destructive.

People may go into denial, or resort to various types of behaviour to try and conceal their loved one’s problem, or control it.

Their thinking can become distorted and their behaviour obsessive, amid the feelings of resentment and frustration.

It may take them a long time to realise it but, just like the alcoholic – they need help.

A branch has started in Buckhaven of a world-famous support group for victims of alcohol abuse.

Al-Anon Family Groups offers understanding and encouragement to those whose lives have been blighted by someone else’s drinking.

It’s safe, friendly, compassionate and, above all, confidential.

It is not Alcoholics Anonymous, which surprises some people.

Its support forum hopes to help men and women by enabling them to share their experience, strength and hope in a bid to solve common problems of living with an alcoholic.

The sessions last around an hour, every Thursday evening at 7.30pm in Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital, in Wellesley Road, Buckhaven.

Its services may be of use to you if your answer to these questions is in the affirmative:

lDo you ever feel embarrassed by the drinker’s behaviour?

lDo you make excuses for the drinker and take on their responsibilities?

lDo you ever feel desperate and alone?

lAre you ashamed of your situation?

lDo you ever feel sorry for yourself; inadequate, guilty, worried?

lAre you losing sleep?

lAre you tired, nervous, depressed?

lAre you short-tempered and frustrated at times?

The Buckhaven group has an ‘open’ meeting on the first Thursday of each month for anyone – professionals such as doctors, nurses, health visitors, police, or other family members who don’t usually attend – interested in hearing how Al-Anon Family Groups works.

The remainder of the month is for Al-Anon members – those whose lives have been bedevilled by an alcoholic’s behaviour and their own efforts to confront it.

Al-Anon Family Groups is fully self-supporting, with no dues for membership.

It is a spirtual – not a religious – fellowship, which practises a Twelve Step progamme.

This is based on the spiritual idea that we can depend on a power greater than ourselves for help in solving our problems and accomplishing peace of mind.

Importantly, we are free to define the power in our own terms and our own way.

Some members may still be living with someone who is drinking.

Some are living with someone who has found sobriety.

Some have lost loved ones, while some had, or have, parents – and children – who were, or still are, alcoholic.

As well as Buckhaven, there are Al-Anon Family Groups in Cupar, Glenrothes and Dunfermline, plus two in Kirkcaldy.

A previous group in Methil folded some time ago but members are glad there is a presence once again in Levenmouth.

Drink and drug misuse affected many densely populated areas with high unemployment, and Levenmouth was a typical case.

You can find out more at www.al-anonuk.org.uk or by ringing the confidential helpline on 0207 403 0888.