By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A Dandenong-based Alcoholics Anonymous group is reaching out to those suffering drinking problems during Covid.
Alan from the Common Welfare Recovery Group knows full well the devastating impact of alcoholism on himself and his family.
Before he joined AA, he realised he was avoiding his wife and kids to drink in the home garage.
“I could see she’d leave me if I kept going.”
Alan was a bit anxious to front up to his first meeting more than a decade ago. But he hasn’t looked back since, he says.
He felt a common bond as he listened to fellow AA members.
“They were telling stories which I could relate to. It was like they were talking about me.”
He’s now a switched-on husband and father to three children.
“The first thing is accepting you’re an alcoholic and then finding the help. That’s what we’re here for.
“We can help you get a better understanding of the problem. We’ve all been in the same boat as recovered alcoholics.”
Members can choose to share or they can sit back and listen. But there is a benefit to getting things “off your chest”, Alan says.
Often it’s the families that suffer more than the alcoholics.
“They’re the ones who go through the trauma, while the alcoholic doesn’t recall what they’ve done. They’ve had a black-out.
“The families think why can’t he just stop? They don’t get that alcoholism is a disease and we can’t find a way out.”
There’s no cure, he says. But the ongoing support of AA has been a great help.
During Covid lockdown, the group meets for an hour on ZOOM online on Fridays, 6.30pm, with closed captioning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Members are missing the ability to chat and catch up face-to-face. So they are making an effort to ring each other and chat during the week, Alan says.
Normally, the Common Welfare Recovery Group meets at St James Church, 55 Langhorne St, Dandenong on Fridays, 6.30pm.
Meetings are free.
Details: aamelbourne.org.au/ or 1300 22 22 22.