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December 15, 1995 - Image 49

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-12-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH . . . AND SAVE
N iC ;;Sigari EE Rrsj•
UNTIL JUNE 1996

all over the country, seven days
a week. Some people attend dai-
ly; at some facilities there are
programs for virtually all ages,
so AA becomes, like the disease
itself, a family affair.
"It helps me come out of my
hiding places," said Julie, who
has been attending Al Anon
meetings for 14 years. "It helps
me be a better human being."
She has started bringing her
9-year-old son to pre-Alateen
meetings. He's been having
trouble in school, she said, and
won't talk about it. "Nonex-
pression is a typical problem in
the families of alcoholics," she
said.
A friend of hers is bringing
her son, too. "Kids don't know
how to do life," the friend said.
"If they aren't taught coping
skills at an early age, they will
use alcohol—and they will
abuse alcohol."
Not all of them are happy to
be here. One boy, asked why he
is attending, mutters, "My mom
makes me."
A girl, asked by a classmate
where her brother is, answers,
"He's lucky. He gets to stay
home."

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Alateen is like
Sunday school.

The lack of interest helps ex-
plain the short attention spans,
and the ensuing chaos.
But even the unruly ones
seem to have grasped at least
part of a key Al-Anon issue: de-
tachment. They have learned
that a parent's drinking prob-
lem is just that—the parent's
problem.
That is why the newcomer,
fantasizing about pouring out
Dad's booze, was swiftly cor-
rected by his more experienced
peers.
They also have learned—al-
though some in the field of sub-
stance-abuse treatment would
disagree—that alcoholism is a
disease.
"She can't help it," one girl
says while discussing her moth-
er's drinking. "She's sick."
A few tiny heads nod in
agreement.
The meeting winds down.
The basket for donations is
passed. A girl is selected to read
the closing, and over the din she
says, "Talk to each other, rea-
son things out with someone
else, but let there be no gossip
or criticism of one another. In-
stead, let the understanding,
love and peace of the program
grow in you one day at a time."
Then they all stand in a cir-
cle, hands joined. Before they
scatter to parents or siblings or
the snack machine, they share
one final chant:
"Keep coming back!" ❑

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FITNESS

-11

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}

49

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