Kieran describes how scars associated with a childhood spent living with an alcoholic parent came to a head later in life.

A Mental Health Foundation study last year found that some 74 percent of people have felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Living with a 'problem drinker' can affect a person mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. It causes major stress in many families, depression in some individuals and low self-esteem in others.

Al-Anon Family Groups provides help and support to anyone who has been affected by someone else’s drinking. By attending Al-Anon Family Group meetings, individuals can learn how best to cope with their situation by switching their focus from the alcoholic to themselves and focusing on their own health and wellbeing.

Dysfunctional relationships

Kieran, an Al-Anon member, described how much he struggled with depression whilst growing up with an alcoholic parent. The low self-esteem and mental health struggles followed him into his adult life.

"My stepfather was an alcoholic," Kieran says. "When I moved out of my parents’ home at the age of 19, I wanted to get as far away as I could. I needed this physical space between me and them as being around them was just too depressing and crippling on my spirit."

"I moved to another city and then to a completely different country. Now I am 56 and have been a member of Al-Anon for the last three years. Some people ask why I decided to go to Al-Anon after such a long time away from my parents and not living with active alcoholism? I didn’t realise how much of the impact associated with growing up with alcoholism in the family I’d carried with me all those years."

"Although I never became addicted to any substance, I did abuse drugs at times and found myself in deeply dysfunctional sexual relationships. Unable to be in a committed relationship, I felt lonely and unable to connect beyond the merely superficial. That left me with two failed parent-hoods, and overwhelming financial responsibilities towards my children. I felt hopeless and had suicidal thoughts every day. I hated myself for creating a life that caused me so much suffering." 

"In the midst of that depression I found Al-Anon, which was the beginning of a profound turnaround for me. For the first time in my life I feel I am being understood by other people, people who have had similar experiences. This helps me understand myself and ‘connect the dots’. I am beginning to accept and even love myself for who I am. My relationships with other people have changed for the better, and I am even pursuing a new career, because I now believe in my potential to live a happy and fulfilled life."

Al-Anon Family Groups and Alateen meetings provide a safe and confidential environment for anybody who is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking. Individuals concerned about someone’s drinking can call Al-Anon's free Helpline on 0800 0086 811 (10am-10pm, 365 days a year).