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Friday, March 23, 2018

Glendive Al-Anon group disbands

By Cindy Mullet

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

For almost 45 years, the 8 p.m., Thursday meeting of Al-Anon at Serenity House has been one of the anchors for Dorothy Post’s week.

The meetings have been important to a lot of people, Post said, but in the last few years, she and one other person have often been the only ones at the meeting. They had talked about disbanding, but one or the other always thought they should try to keep the meeting going. This time, both agreed it was time to quit.

“It’s hard to give up,” she said, adding, “I’m losing one of the anchors to my week. It’s not easy.”

When Post started going to Al-Anon meetings in 1974, there were two in Glendive. One met at Serenity House and one met upstairs in the Dion Building. The second meeting disbanded a number of years ago but the Serenity House meeting tried to keep going, she said.

After 18 months with just two of them showing up every week and unsuccessful attempts to find new members through contacts with District II Drug and Alcohol and the Dawson County Domestic Violence program, they decided it was time to disband.

“I’m 94,” Post said, explaining that she is no longer comfortable driving at night and couldn’t keep that weekly commitment. The decision was not made lightly, she emphasized.

Attendance was never high at the meetings, but in the earlier days at least five or six people showed up each week. Over the years, interest dwindled away, and Post is not sure why. People have told her how much the meetings meant to them and how much they were helped, but they seemed to reach a point where they felt they didn’t need them every week and stopped coming, she said.

Lots of people have told her, “I’m glad you were there,” she said. Since the meeting has been discontinued, she has also heard, “I thought you would always be there,” she added.

For Post, Al-Anon was the place that helped her accept she couldn’t make an alcoholic stop drinking and gave her the tools to help her get on with her life. She learned that by letting the alcoholic upset her life, she was concentrating on that person and not herself, she said.

At every Al-Anon meeting, people hear the message of the three Cs: “We did not cause this person to be an alcoholic. We can’t control it. We can’t cure it.”

“That has made a lot of difference in a lot of lives,” she said, adding that spouses are often made to feel that they are to blame for their partner’s alcoholism. If they could just be better, their spouse wouldn’t have to drink.

“The only thing we can change is ourselves,” she said. Accepting that truth and refusing to fight with the alcoholic changes the family dynamics.

As with the members of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon members work through a 12 step program, starting with admitting they are powerless over alcohol and need the help of a power greater than themselves to restore their sanity, she said.

Al-Anon meetings also follow 12 traditions which guide the dynamics of the group. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem with alcoholism in a family member or friend. Anonymity is the foundation of all the traditions and is closely guarded.

The weekly Al-Anon meetings were a big commitment for Post, but one she considered her mission. 

“It was my job to be there,” she noted.

While there is no longer an active Al-Anon meeting in Glendive, persons who are interested in forming a group or learning more about it can find information at the state level by going to al-anon-montana.org or by writing to the national headquarters at AFG Inc.; 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway; Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617. Post also has contact information for an Al-Anon group in Miles City.

Reach Cindy Mullet at

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