Top 5 Al-Anon alternatives

Al-Anon just doesn’t work for everyone who is close to an addict or alcoholic. What are some alternatives? We explore here.

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Al-Anon just didn’t resonate with me

I went to an Al-Anon meeting for the first time after witnessing my husband’s second major relapse in our relationship. I walked out not feeling any different from when I walked in. No one spoke to me and I felt like I was walking in on a meeting that I was not supposed to be a part of. I did not go again until relapse number five or six.

How Al-Anon works is pretty straightforward: it’s a mutual support group that teaches the tenets of the 12 steps of recovery.  At this second meeting someone spoke to me, but the message still did not resonate with me. I was supposed to be looking at myself and not the addict. There were a bunch of people blaming themselves and pointing out their own flaws. Some even continued to live with their addicted loved one. I did not understand how this was going to help me.

Readiness to Change Differs for Everyone

Sometimes we do not hear or see things right in front of us until we are ready to. I was not ready to focus on myself and my flaws. I wanted to talk about what the addict was doing wrong and try to fix him. I was still open to family communication with an addict husband. The approach of Al-Anon was not aggressive enough for me to see the error of my ways. For some people Al-Anon is a sanctuary and it can be for those who are inspired by their philosophies and theories on co-addiction.

Recovery is Personal

Although I truly admire the approach of Al-Anon, their message, guidance and support, I knew I needed something more to help myself. I sought different outlets and eventually learned that recovery is personal. I needed not just one thing, but a variety of things to help me change. Like diets, medications, and exercise routines, there is no ‘one size fits all approach.’ Everyone reacts differently to things they encounter and everyone needs a different approach. Even if an approach is general and not specific to the individual, two people sitting right next to each other, hearing the exact same thing, may take away their meaning.

5 Alternatives for Help in Recovery from Co-addictive Relationships

You may need to utilize one, any combination, or all of these alternatives.

1. Friends and Family

Since these are the people who probably know you best, they can also be the most useful to help you take a good look in the mirror. It is hard realize the change in the person you were and the one you have become since co-addiction took over. Friends and family are the people who can be honest with you and help support you in your recovery. Being honest with them about what is wrong with you will help them know how to support you.

2. Individual Therapy or Counseling

Find a counselor who can work with you and use an approach based on your individual needs. It is helpful if they have a background in addiction and codependency. Although groups are a great outlet, sometimes they don’t allow the time for you to get the concentrated one-on-one therapy you need to uncover your own issues. Is is time to let go of an addict? You can explore this in individual psychotherapy.

3. The Internet

By searching for articles, chats or online groups regarding addiction and co-addiction, one can gain a better understanding of their own behavior. The behavior of a co-addict is not unique in many ways. There are traits a person may be able to see in others that are parallel to their own. Becoming familiar with the fact that you are not alone and that what you are going through can be managed is a great stepping stone.

4. A Change in Environment

Being in the presence of an addict for a co-addict is like an addict being in the presence of his or her drug of choice. It is hard to recover or get better when you are living with what triggers you. Sometimes space and distance can help you gain perspective and realize that you can have a life without an addict.

5. Education

With technology, e-books, and the ease of ordering books and searching credible sources of information, you have a wealth of knowledge and advice at your fingertips.Each person, at some point, has their “aha” moment. This is when a person takes responsibility for their behaviors within the context of their situation. If you are ignorant to your situation, educating yourself on co-addiction, codependency and addiction, can help you understand what is happening to you and why. When you have a puzzle and all of the pieces are scattered it is hard tounderstand what it all means. When you can educate yourself you can start to put the pieces together and see the big picture.

Co-addiction and codependency can be treated

Above are some tools that, when combined, can be very effective in a co-addict’s recovery. Listen to your gut because when you feel that something is wrong, it usually is, but DON’T stop there. Take the next steps to find out what the gut feeling is really all about. These strategies, which are alternatives to Al-Anon can also be used in conjunction with it. The key is to find what works for you!

About the author
Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and two sons in Florida.
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