Teens dealing with family alcoholism have a place to go

Did you know there is an Alateen Group in Lihu‘e?

Alateen, which is part of the Al-Anon Family Groups, provides a place for young people whose lives have been affected by alcoholism in a family member or close friend to come together. Members help one another by sharing their experiences, strength and hope.

When someone becomes a problem drinker, all of their family members are affected. Even if teens can’t change the person, they can learn ways to solve the problems that alcoholism has created. Being with other teens who share the same experience has helped many. Who would know better the stresses and pain than someone else who lives with the same problem? Alateen helps teens detach from the drinker’s problems while still loving the person.

Many times teenagers think they are the only ones living with an alcoholic. They may be embarrassed to bring friends over or tell lies to cover up for problems in the home. It really relieves the burden to find out that others also have the same problem — and that’s it’s not only OK for you to let others know the little secret, but that it begins the healing process to do so.

Another handout, “Alateen Do’s and Don’ts,” gives some helpful hints for living with an alcoholic.

Some of the “do’s” for Alateens are:

• Do remember you are not the only one with an alcoholic parent.

• Do learn all you can about alcoholism, a family disease.

• Do be honest with yourself and others.

• Do use your talents in ways that interest you.

Here are some don’ts:

• Don’t cover up for the alcoholic and take on responsibilities other than your own.

• Don’t try to make the alcoholic stop drinking. You can’t.

• Don’t argue with an active alcoholic.

• Don’t take it personally when the alcoholic blames you for drinking — any excuse will do.

Alateen meetings are always confidential, and members are careful to protect each other’s anonymity. The groups do not discuss religion or become involved with any outside organizations. They focus on the solutions to the problems of their members.

Each Alateen group has two sponsors who have been Al-Anon members for at least two years. Al-Anon is for adults who lives have been affected by an alcoholic family member or close friend.

The sponsors don’t tell the Alateens how to run the meeting; they let the kids decide how to run it, how often to meet and how long the meeting will go.

If this sounds like it might help you or a friend, call 346-6784.

• Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i staff contribute a weekly column on teen issues.


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