Hilltoppers-AFG Alateen Area

Youth & the Alcoholic Parent

Resources for Teens in Recovery


**Alateen Can Help

Here's how to get help for yourself.Try to find a quiet place and read this (pamphlet) carefully. Then look up Al-Anon Family Groups or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the telephone book and call to ask where the nearest Al-Anon or Alateen group meets, or write to Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. They will send you the address of a nearby meeting and some literature for you to read. Our service is free and confidential, so please use it. Also, you can email us from this website.

WHAT IS ALATEEN?     Top of Page

Alateen is a fellowship of teenage relatives and friends of alcoholics. Alateen is a part of Al-Anon. All groups are sponsored by Al-Anon members. Young people meet in over 3500 Alateen groups worldwide to help each other cope with the troubles brought about by another parson's drinking. Alateen is not for teenage alcoholics or drug abusers unless their lives have been affected by someone else's drinking.

Alateen was started in 1957 by a boy in California whose father, an alcoholic, was sober in AA. His mother was a member of an Al-Anon Group, so he patterned Alateen after Al-Anon ideas.

When we belong to an Alateen group, we go to meetings where we can discuss our problems; we read Al-Anon pamphlets which help answer our questions, and we hear how oters have made a new life for themselves, set their own goals, and helped others in the group do the same.

In Al-Anon and Alateen we learn that Alcoholism is a disease. Alchholics have an incurable illness which they cannot control.

Alcoholics don't want to make their family and friends suffer. They don't want to get into debt, smash up cars, land in hospitals or jails. They don't want to forget special days, abuse their families or embarrass us; however, alcohol affects people's behavior. Even though they may not admit they drink too much, they often suffer from guilt, remorse, physical illness, loneliness and despair.

We begin to understand this when we come to Alateen. We also discover what we can do to help ourselves, whether the alcoholic continues to drink or not.

Alcoholism is a worldwide problem. In the United States and Canada there are more than 20 million alcoholics. Many have children, brothers and sisters, or good friends who care about them. So you see, you are not alone in your trouble. That's why Alateen continues to grow.

**Who is an alcoholic?
All kinds of people are alcoholics; young and old, rich and poor, well-educated and ignorant, professional people and factory workers, housewives and mothers. Only about three to five percent of alcoholics are "bums" or skid row types. The rest have families and friends. Many have jobs, and are functioning fairly well, but their drinking affects some part of their lives. Their family life, their social life, or their job may suffer. It might be all three. An alcoholic is someone whose drinking causes a continuing and growing problem in any department of his/her life.
An alcoholic is a compulsive drinker, a victim of a recognized disease.
**Why does my father drink too much?
Many people drink because they like the way alcohol makes them feel. But, some drinkers have no control. If your father drinks so much that he gets into trouble, and his life has become unmanageable, he may be an alcoholic.
**Why can't my mother stop drinking?
Because the need to drink is too strong for her. She may not want to drink. However, her desire for liquor, wine, or beer is so overpowering that she cannot control it. It is a drive that is stronger than anything in her life, no matter how much it makes her and others suffer.
**Both my parents drink too much. Why don't they realize they are alcoholic and do something about it?
Perhaps they do realize there is something wrong with the way they drink, but are ashamed or not ready to admit it. Few will. Perhaps they are in denial. This means they cannot see that there is a problem. Your mother or father may have tried to overcome their drinking and failed; many alcoholics give up hope because of this.
**Is there a cure for this illness?
Although it is possible to stop drinking, there is no cure for alcoholism. Like diabetes, alcoholism can be arrested, but not cured; a single drink can start the drinking again.
**Can I get an alcoholic to stop drinking?
In Alateen and Al-Anon we learn that we did not cuse the alcoholism; we cannot control it and we cannot cure it. We call these the "three C's." We can do nothing directly to get an alcoholic to stop drinking. Persuasion, scolding, bitter silence and tears put an alcoholic on the defensive and increase the feeling of guilt, which can lead to more trouble for you.
**What can I do to help?
First learn about alchoholism. This will help you understand the nature of the illness. Read Alateen and Al-Anon literature. A list of books and pamphlets can be obtained from the World Service Office. There is more information in the ******Recources****** section of this website. Join an Alateen or Al-Anon group and attend meetings regularly. Talk to people, listen and learn how they handled problems like yours. Try to accept the fact that you cannot live other people's lives for them, no matter how much you may want to help them.
Try not to judge anyone. Families of alcoholics often have a lot of problems. Where alcoholism is involved people often say things they don't mean. Try to concentrate on your own behavior and what you learn in Alateen meetings.
Become aware of your own feelings and behavior. Everyone who lives with an alcoholic can be affected. Our thinking becomes distorted and confused. We may resent the drinker and the conditions drinking creates. In Alateen, we learn to detach ourselves from negative thoughts, as they are destructive - to us. Finally, you can help best by getting better yourself. You can do this by going to Alateen.
**What if the alcoholic in our family never stops drinking?
There is hope for every alcoholic, no matter how bleak things look at the moment. By going to Alateen and Al-Anon, we learn to take care of ourselves, whether the alcoholic stops drinking or not. We continue to go to meetings, live one day at a time, and keep in touch with other Alateen and Al-Anon members. We come to believe that the only life we are responsible for or have any control over, is our own. You may need to seek professional help to provide additional support.
**What can I say to my friends when they see one of my parents drunk?
It is natural to feel angry, ashamed or embarrassed when this happens. It might help to tell your friends that your parent has a disease. Once we understand alcoholism, it is easier to cope with such situations.
**What can I do if my friends don't want to visit me?
Try not to take their refusal personally. Your friends may not understand the disease of alcoholism. They may only feel uncomfortable in your home and not with you. Perhaps you can join them someplace else. Don't withdraw from them or group activities. Your positive attitude may be an example to others with similar problems.
**How can I believe my parents love me if they mistreat me?
Love is distorted by the disease of alcoholism. Alcoholics often hate themselves and they appear to hate everyone else. They react in irrational ways. Those of us who live in alcoholic situations may act irrationally as well. Alcoholics often take out their hostilities on others. When someone is out of control, it makes sense to avoid them, if possible. It doesn't make any sense to fight or argue with someone who is drinking.
**What can I do if the situation becomes violent?
Try to get out of the way. Sometimes it may be necessary to leave the room or your home temporarily. Contact someone you trust. It may be someone in Al-Anon/Alateen, a Sponsor, spiritual advisor, guidance counselor, teacher or the police. Plan ahead and have the phone number in a safe place where you can get help.
**If either of my parents is an alcoholic, will I be one, too?
There is not a "yes" or "no" answer to this question. Experts do not agree on exactly what makes a person an alcoholic. However, since alcoholism does tend to run in families, the children of alcoholics are at greater risk. Learning about alcohol, and its effects, examining how we use alcohol and what we expect from it, may help us to make a decision about its place in our lives.
**If one parent is alcoholic why is my other parent so unreasonable?
Alcoholism affects everyone in the family. Your other parent may feel lonely, frightened, confused or angry and act nervous, irritable and resentful. Without help, living with a problem drinker is too much for most of us.
There may be an effort to win our favor and support by one parent putting the other parent down.
There may be verbal and physical abuse of each other.
You may be given an unusual number of jobs around the house as a way to take over the responsibilities for the family.
You may hear a lot about personal matters because you can be trusted because you are the only one there.
Others may be asked to lecture you, particularly if you tend to reject suggestions.
You may feel the nonalcoholic parent doesn't deserve your respect because he/she appears to be unable to cope with the situations in your home.
In Alateen, you can learn to deal with your resentments toward both of your parents. Others in the family may be suffering just as deeply as you are; it helps to be patient and understanding. Perhaps you could encourage them to seek help in Al-Anon.
**Will getting help for myself do any good if the alcoholic refuses to get help?
Yes! Those who become involved in Alateen and Al-Anon find many others who share their feelings. With a change of attitude, members learn to appreciate themselves and others. Love and respect can become a part of life.
**Where can an alcoholic find help?
There are many places where an alcoholic can find help. The most widely know is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Recovering alcoholics say, "The best chance of success is in AA, when the alcoholic is ready to ask for and accept help."
**Where can I get help for myself?
You can get help by attending Alateen and Al-Anon meetings. If you have trouble locating groups write to Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. For those without a meeting to attend, there is a Lone Member Service where you can write to Alateen and Al-Anon members. It's similar to having a pen pal. There are also many online internet resources available.
There is no secret to how Alateen and Al-Anon works. We learn to change our way of thinking. It isn't easy, but it helps us to feel a lot better about ourselves and our lives.
The following slogans help us:
**Easy Does It
Say it to yourself over and over again, especially when you're angry or upset about something. Think about it when you're in a hurry to do something and everything seems to go wrong. Easy Does It. Slow down a little; think before your speak or act. You'll be surprised at how much one slogan can do for you.
**First Things First
Whenever you find yourself getting rattled and confused, and you don't know which way to turn, stop and think: "What do I do first? What's most important? What will be best for me?" This slogan helps you to prioritize events in your life. No matter how many problems you have, you can only handle one at a time. Concentrate on each one in turn. You'll get a lot more done that way.
**Let Go and Let God
Do your best with a problem (Let Go) and then try to leave the results up to a Higher Power (Let God). Believing in yourself as a worth-while person and becoming confident that things will work out for the best will help you to stop worrying.
**Live & Let Live
This slogan tells us to concentrate on living our own lives the best way we can (Live) and letting other people do the same (Let Live). It means trying not to criticize or hurt anyone by things we say or do. This slogan helps us to focus on ourselves and get on with our lives.
Using this slogan helps us remember to think before we act and keeps us from saying and doing things that we may regret.
**One Day at a Time
If we worry about what's going to happen or what's already happened we can forget to be thankful for what we have now. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn't here, so we can only live in today. Alateen keeps us on track and helps us to live One Day at a Time.
A BRIEF SUMMARY     Top of Page
No matter how difficult our situation, we can build a better life for ourselves by remembering to reach out for recovery, it doesn't 'just happen'. Try to keep these points in mind:
*Alateen has helped many others.
*Alcoholism affects the person who drinks and those who are close to the alcoholic.
*Learning the facts about alcoholism can help you accept it as a disease.
*Another person's addiction to alcohol is no reflection on you.
*You are not responsible for your parent's behavior.
*Talking things over with someone you trust helps.
*Try to be patient with yourself and your family. Alcoholism has affected you and your family for a long time, and it may take a long time to recover.
*Try to be the best person you can be, one day at a time.
*Attend Alateen, Al-Anon, and open AA meetings.
*You are not alone -- millions of other teenagers are going through the same problems that you are.
*The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions are also an important part of the Alateen program.

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ŠThe information on this page is from Al-Anon Pamphlet #P-21, and is reprinted with permission of Al-Anon World Headquarters. See the Contact Page for more info.