Al-Anon can be a great source of support, hope, and encouragement when your life is being affected by someone else’s drinking. Al-Anon is part of the Al-Anon Family Groups worldwide fellowship, which publishes many books and pamphlets that share Al-Anon’s purpose—to help family and friends recover from another person’s drinking problem.
Much of Al-Anon’s literature features helpful and inspiring quotes that can get you through challenging moments, especially when you cannot make it to a meeting. Here are 20 useful Al-Anon quotes to refer to when times get rough and how you can find a 12-step Al-Anon recovery group in your area.
“We are powerless over another’s alcoholism. We didn’t cause the disease. We can’t control it. And we can’t cure it.”
You can only do so much to help someone suffering from alcohol addiction. You can tell that person how their drinking makes you feel and the benefits of going to an alcohol rehab center. You can stage an intervention or issue one ultimatum after another with hopes that person will seek the help they need.
However, there comes a point where it’s up to that person to decide whether or not they truly want to change. There also comes a time where you need to admit that you are powerless over another’s alcoholism and that there’s nothing you can do to control it or cure it.
“Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another’s behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, lives with dignity and rights, lives guided by a Power greater than ourselves.”
Some of the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon refer to looking to a Higher Power for courage and motivation that can help you rise above your suffering. Letting go of your obsession with another’s drinking can often propel you toward finding happiness and pleasure in your own life, along with meaning and purpose.
The detachment mentioned in this quote can refer to physical, mental, and emotional detachment as long as you separate yourself from the individual, causing you to experience harm and suffering.
“I didn’t cause it, but if I recognize that I may have contributed to it, then I need to own that part: only that part!”
Many people whose lives are being affected by someone else’s drinking often find themselves becoming enablers. This is common and normal and often happens by accident—especially when you love and care about the person. Examples of enabling behaviors include sticking up for the person’s toxic behavior or giving them money to buy more alcohol.
If you feel as though you may have contributed to another person’s drinking, such as by enabling them to drink, taking ownership of your behavior can help you cope and recover. Acknowledging and recognizing what you did can bring you closer to learning how to correct your behavior and make positive changes that facilitate your healing and recovery.
“Making amends isn’t just saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ It means responding differently from our new understanding.”
This quote goes hand in hand with “Actions speak louder than words.” Words are easy to say. Anyone can say words, but behaviors and actions require greater work and effort. The person in your life who is drinking may easily apologize and say they’re sorry, but repeatedly apologizing for the same mistake usually indicates they aren’t learning from it and that they’re likely to do it again.
Stop allowing yourself to feel sad, disappointed, or let down when the drinker in your life continues to say they’re sorry without changing their behaviors. Remember that actions always speak louder than words and that the person will start responding differently if they truly understand how their drinking affects you.
“We cannot climb up a rope that is attached only to our own belt.”
The burden of coping with another person’s drinking problem can be a lot to handle on your own. It’s normal to feel isolated and lonely, especially if you don’t talk about it with others, or if you find that nobody else can relate to your situation. Thankfully, Al-Anon meetings make ideal safe havens for people like you who need extra help and support.
It’s okay to reach out to friends, family, and peers in recovery who can help you overcome the obstacles you may be dealing with right now. Don’t try to go it alone, and understand that asking for help doesn’t make you weak.
“You can control yourself, you can change yourself, you can cure yourself.”
Only you have the power to change and cure yourself. If you’re in a difficult situation that makes you feel trapped, remind yourself that you are in control of your own life. One day, you’ll be able to look back and wonder how you ever allowed yourself to feel hopeless and out of control. When times become difficult, just know that brighter, happier times lie ahead, as long as you accept the fact that change and healing are possible.
“While these loved ones may not meet our expectations, it is our expectations, not our loved ones, that have let us down.”
It’s easy to give your loved ones the benefit of the doubt, especially when they say you can rely on them to change their harmful ways and behaviors. It’s easy to have high expectations and hope for the best. However, you may have heard that popular saying: “Hope for the best, plan for the worst,” which means be optimistic but also be prepared for all possibilities.
Alcohol addiction is a complex disease. It is considered both a brain disorder and a mental illness characterized by compulsive behaviors. The sooner you can acknowledge this fact, the sooner you will understand that your loved one may not meet your expectations until they’re ready to seek treatment that can help them become healthier individuals. Until then, try not to keep the bar too high to avoid feeling let down.
“Anger can be constructive in telling me that someone else is stepping on some boundaries that I need to enforce.”
Many people who suffer from alcohol addiction are in denial that they have a drinking problem, to begin with. They may gaslight you and make you feel guilty for saying they have a drinking problem or for being angry about their behaviors.
Your anger is likely completely justifiable if your loved one’s drinking is hurting you in any way and affecting your quality of life. Listen to your anger, as it could mean that the drinker in your life is overstepping boundaries. Start enforcing them immediately to protect your health, happiness, and general well-being.
“I am not responsible for other people’s happiness.”
People are responsible for their own choices and, therefore, their own happiness. You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. That is a lot for other people to expect and ask of you.
Repeat this quote to yourself when you feel the unnecessary burden of trying to keep another person happy, especially if that person is struggling with an addiction or mental illness that requires professional treatment.
“I cannot give other people the status of my Higher Power.”
The relationship between you and your Higher Power is extremely personal. The status and identity of your Higher Power are yours to know alone, which makes your relationship that much more sacred and special. Throughout your recovery, it may give you peace of mind to know that your Higher Power is one thing that belongs entirely to you and nobody else.
“I want to be able to respond, not react.”
This quote can empower you to respond to situations instead of reacting. This means having a plan, knowing what you want and need, and standing up for what you believe in during difficult situations, as opposed to simply reacting to situations without a plan in place.
“My happiness is my responsibility.”
This quote is highly similar to #9, as it serves to remind you that you are responsible for your own happiness and that you should never rely on another to make you happy. This quote is also similar to #6 in that it can remind you that only you are in control of your life and therefore, your happiness.
“It’s time to stop waiting for others to take care of me. The only person who can love me the way I want to be loved is me.”
Loving yourself is one of the greatest forms of self-care. When you’re focusing on helping others, you may forget about or overlook your own needs and end up neglecting your health, happiness, and overall livelihood.
While it’s okay to help others, you must also know when you’ve reached your limit. Learn how to say “no” when it’s necessary so you can look after yourself and practice good self-care.
“Pain is something that comes and goes; suffering is something we hold on to.”
This quote reminds us that pain is often acute and can leave as quickly as it sets in. Suffering, on the other hand, tends to be more chronic and long-term and can affect you for many months or years when you hold on to it.
Get help right away if you are suffering. Attend an Al-Anon meeting or talk to a doctor or therapist who can guide you toward treatments and interventions that can help you stop suffering.
“When I blame someone else for something, I give up my power to them.”
Blaming someone else means holding that person accountable for what you are going through, which essentially means that you are giving that person the power to harm and hurt you.
Try to avoid blaming another for your misfortune and unhappiness or any bad things that happen to you. Again, you are responsible for your own happiness, and you must face the consequences for your actions just like anyone else. Sometimes, this is enough to inspire you to change and do whatever it takes to remove yourself from bad situations.
“I must learn to give those I love the right to make their own mistakes and recognize them as theirs alone.”
It’s natural to want to take care of someone you love and shield them from the worst harm, even if they’re the person responsible for making a mistake who landed them in their situation in the first place. Many people who live with alcoholics become enablers who take partial or full responsibility for their loved ones’ mistakes. This isn’t fair and doesn’t help the drinker grow or learn from their mistakes.
If this quote resonates with you, it may be time to take a step back. Let the person continue making mistakes, so they can eventually understand that they own the consequences.
“Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires.”
Try taking things one day at a time and accept things for the way they are, as opposed to striving for your idea of perfection. Nothing and nobody will ever be perfect, and sometimes, trying to adjust everything to your own desires can lead to disappointment, especially when things rarely turn out as expected. Instead, focus on being mindful and living in the present moment.
“In attempting to protect ourselves, we let our personalities slip away until we were emotionally numb. Struggling.”
When suffering or in a situation where you feel you need to protect yourself, it’s natural to wear a disguise of sorts that hides your best qualities. Over time, this can cause you to become emotionally numb and a shell of the person you once were. Remind yourself that help is available when you need it, so you can avoid sacrificing your personality to cope with another person’s mistakes and problems.
“We have a right to expect more from life than mere survival.”
Surviving and barely getting by is not a fun way to live. There may be periods in your life that are difficult and that may be described as “survival,” such as when you have to work two or three jobs while going to school for a few years or when you spend a few months recovering from a serious injury.
However, there may be other situations in life where you are merely “surviving” for no good reason other than because someone is causing you to experience pain and suffering. For example, perhaps you are finally in a position in your life where you are earning good money and ready to buy a house, but your partner is controlling your finances and spending it all on alcohol. As a result, you’re living paycheck to paycheck and feel as though your life is unfulfilling. You’re unhappy but surviving.
You absolutely have a right to expect more from life than mere survival. If you’ve been surviving, it’s time to get help and make positive changes.
“You have to count on living every single day in a way you believe will make you feel good about your life.”
Older adults who live well into their 90s and 100s say that waking up with a sense of purpose is what keeps them alive and healthy. This is great advice for people who may feel helpless and hopeless in their situations and who may not feel good about where they are at the present moment.
Do something every day that makes you feel happy and good about yourself, no matter how big or small. Feed a stray cat, do volunteer work, or spend quality time with friends and family members who make you feel happy.
The Twelve Steps Of Al-Anon Can Also Help You Get Through
The following Twelve Steps have served as a tool for spiritual growth for millions of Al‑Anon members. Referring to these steps can also help you get through tough times.
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Visit Find Support Groups today to find an Al-Anon meeting near you, or call (561) 559-9210 to locate the nearest Al-Anon support group.