Growing up with an alcoholic father: Toowoomba teen

MY name is Sally and I am very much a grateful member of Alateen. I am 14 years old and have been attending the weekly meetings in Toowoomba since 2008.

My dad suffers from a disease which many have been affected by - alcoholism.

He was an active drinker for as long as I can remember, but with the help of AA he has become sober.

Before Alateen, I didn't know how to deal with living with an alcoholic.

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I didn't even know what alcoholism was, and I thought that was how all drinkers acted, so I promised myself I would never drink.

At least not like that.

I felt embarrassed to bring friends home and I was scared that my dad's behaviour would affect who wanted to be my friend and who didn't.

Trying to figure out why he would do this to my three sisters, myself and my mum made me think a lot and I didn't understand what he was trying to do to us.

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Having to get in the car and stay at a friend's for the night because he became so unsafe to be around made me angry and upset.

On an eight-year-old, the stress was too much.

I remember being asked by my mum if I wanted to join Alateen.

Reluctantly, I agreed to go to a meeting. I clearly remember walking in, butterflies in my tummy and seeing a girl reading a book called "What's drunk mumma?".

She looked up, smiled and welcomed me into the group.

Although not sharing at my first meeting, I learnt what alcoholism was. I learnt why my dad acted the way he did - he couldn't control himself.

I learnt to accept, and to not get so angry and frustrated by his actions. I kept going to those meetings and seven years on, I still am.

Coincidently, last Tuesday when we had our meeting, we read What's drunk mumma?.

The memories of first learning about alcoholism and my dad's disease came back to me and it made me realise how grateful I am to be able to understand what was going on.

Now that I'm older everything is clearer for me, but at the time of my dad's active drinking, understanding it really did help.

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When I started Alateen in 2008, there were four members and, by 2010 the Toowoomba Alateen group had seven kids and we were too big to fit in the room.

So we decided to move to the Jacaranda room in Grand Central, where we meet on Tuesdays at 4pm.

In 2011 and 2012 we had up to 13 kids and two sponsors coming, but now unfortunately we don't have as many.

Some weeks, we're lucky if one Alateen member turns up.

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Also we are looking for a new home as the Jacaranda Room won't be available after June because of redevelopment. We are going to move to another room then.

For Alateen to be able to continue and to spread hope for children of Alcoholics, we need to get the message out.

One hour a week can make a difference, because it certainly did for me.

Phone 1300252666 for more information on Al-Anon and Alateen



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