Saturday, August 7, 2010

Al Anon at IDAA 2010 Buffalo

This morning Bobbi gave the talk on the traditions of Al Anon. They were taken in most from the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lois Wilson, the wife of Bill Wilson Co founder of AA began the original Al Anon meetings for families. Many spoke about the large spread influence of chemical dependence. In the break up group Tom spoke of Cheevers' recent book about Bill Wilson quoting that the '12 steps of AA helped prevent suicide whereas the 12 traditions helped prevent homicide."

The traditions were developed to help groups manage their relationships with the outside world. At our group each person read a tradition and then spoke ad hoc about what that meant for them.

I sat again with Hugh and his wife for the meeting Double Winners when the three speakers shared individually about their own experience of addiction, recovery in AA, and their experience of other's addiction, and their recovery in Al Anon. One recovered alcoholic married an Al Anon and joined Al Anon to deal with the new wife's ex-husband who was an active alcoholic. A beautiful young woman shared her experience of growing up in a family where nearly everyone suffered from alcoholism. When she was 6 she remembered coming home from the grocery with her parents and father saying of the 40 ounce bottle, "Whatever you do, don't drop the gold." She joined Al Anon but later she realized that she'd drunk 13 guinness one night so joined AA to deal with her own addiction. Now her father and a half dozen or more of her siblings are in recovery. When they have family reunions today we call them 'love feasts'. There's just no more of the arguments and accidents. Another speaker shared of her need to control and make right all those in her family. She only learned about relationships and how they could work well in recovery in Al Anon.

I shared with Hugh that mostly these days my difficulties are dealing with other active and untreated diseases of addiction. I've bought a Blueprint for Recovery work book for Al Anon Step 4, already have the Al Anon Recovery book but really mean to read it now. At Hugh's suggestion I'm going to get into an open AA 12 step meeting with a friend and actually get an Al Anon home group. These last couple of years I've been going to more and more Al Anon meetings but haven't actually got an Al Anon sponsor or home group. When I first went to Al Anon 14 years ago there were only women in the group I attended. Now there are two men's Al Anon groups in Vancouver. About half one of the Al Anon meetings I attended was men.

The rise in women with addiction has been exponential. It used to be "Women ate. Men drank" but now with women in the work place they're competing for addiction but getting into recovery sooner. So many young women doctors were here having the honesty to deal with their addiction. I love their some of their stories. I'll never forget the brilliant world reknowned southern surgeon who moved to Minnesota only to find that she was in trouble for drinking on the job. "I never thought I had a problem. I just figured the northern surgeons weren't good enough surgeons to operate and drink".

I remember the Irish and British physicians who drank on call when I worked with them telling me that it was the normal policy for them in training. Times change and so does the precision and speed. An old timer said that cars had ruined his drinking. "I never got a DUI on my horse. I used to let the horse get me home after a night at the pub. It was only when I bought the car that I started getting DWI's. "

Graeme told me he'd been attending more Al Anon meetings these last few years at IDAA and enjoying them even more.

There's more gentleness in Al Anon. The acceptance is the same but the compassion and kindness is just that much more palpable. I think the laughter is still louder in AA but we all laughed when the Double Winner, Al Anon and AA, said, "It took me about 5 years to get all my marbles back and then another 5 years to learn how to play with them."

The Al Anon at I

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