Help from Al Anon

by Bipolar Hotline Staff on April 7, 2011

Al Anon is a support group for the friends and family of alcoholics. It was founded by Lois Wilson, the wife of the founder of the alcoholics anonymous who is Bill Wilson. Lois was very prominent and an inspiration to the people who have alcoholic loved ones.

Lois was the eldest daughter of Clark and Matilda Burnham. Lois’ father practiced surgery in Brooklyn Heights, New York. She is the granddaughter of a Swedish born pastor where she was raised in that faith. She attended a kindergarten run by the Pratt Institute and later Friends School. She studied fine arts at Packer Collegiate Institute. She had a talent for drawing, and later developed skill in interior decoration. After graduation she worked for the YWCA and later taught at a private school.

Lois and Bill got to know each other through Lois’ younger brother. Bill became an acquaintance of Roger, Lois’s younger brother and then, met Lois. Lois and Bill fell in love with each other and hoping to make a family they got married, making a long story short.

On the contrary, Bill Wilson was raised in a not so happy family. Bill Wilson was nine when his parents divorced. His alcoholic father deserted the family, and the following year his mother left Bill and his sister with her parents and moved from Vermont to Boston. Bill’s childhood and young adulthood were used up fighting depression, resentment, low self-esteem and guilty feelings that would exacerbate the anger, bitterness and grandiose ambitions that fueled his alcoholism.

During their marriage, Bill was still an alcohol drinker, all the more when the couple was tackled with several miscarriages and finally facing the fact that they were not able to bear children. With Bill’s problem, he had gone through darkness as any other alcoholics would. And finally, he found the light and entered a rehabilitation center. After his rehab, he started Alcoholics Anonymous. Later on, Lois started Al Anon which caters to the friends and family of alcoholics.

In 1935, after years of unsuccessfully struggling to cover for Bill and handle his disease, Lois finally saw him take control of his alcoholism; however, his sobriety was not the result of Lois’s help, rather it came through the support of a fellow recovering alcoholic, Dr. Bob Smith. As Bill and Bob achieved lasting sobriety and co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous, Lois began to question the value she had in her own marriage. After devoting 17 years to healing her sick husband, Lois felt isolated and angry that he had gotten sober without her help. Lois eventually discovered that she was not alone. She slowly met with the wives of the men in Bill’s program and came to realize that while Bill was addicted to alcohol, she was addicted to him – and that the family and friends of alcoholics are, in some ways, as sick as their loved ones. Lois achieved the required understanding needed to repair her fractured relationship and to help millions of others do the same. And that’s how she founded Al Anon.

Lois began her own journey through informal meetings with the wives of alcoholics, a seed that would one day flourish into the organization known as Al-Anon. She was able to start the group because she desired to help the loved ones who experienced the same thing she did. When she began to share her personal thoughts and feelings with others, she came to understand that she had really believed she could manipulate her husband’s life. She was totally sure that her love and inspiration was all that was needed to carry out his every need, that her own willpower and steadfast guidance was all that was needed to quench Bill’s thirst for alcohol.

Lois served as an inspiration to the people who have suffered because their loved ones are victims of alcohol. It is indeed true that it is those people whose loved ones have become alcoholics who suffer the most. It pains them that their loved ones have become lost on their way. They could not seem to bear the pain of seeing their loved ones suffer from addiction.

Al Anon is there to support the wants and desires and the problems of the loved ones of people who suffer from alcohol abuse.

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