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Knowing someone with an addiction can be confusing, sad and even frightening especially for young children who may not understand the disease that affects a loved one.
A new weekly class that focuses on the youngest members of families involved in Alcoholics Anonymous may be able to help.
The Emotional Sobriety Focus on the Family Group held a kickoff breakfast Saturday at the Alano Club in Murray to let AA members and the public know about the new offering.
"It's AA for children, so they can know what's going on with their family," said Elene Dangerfield, who is spearheading the effort.
Weekly classes follow "12 Steps, 12 Stories: Spiritual Messages of Recovery for Children and the Child in You," a book by Debra Alessandra, a prevention specialist and counselor in the drug and alcohol field. It offers age-appropriate stories to coincide with each step in the recovery process, helping children understand what is happening in their home in a language they can grasp.
On Saturday, Dangerfield read the first chapter of the book about Ed, a dog who has a dangerous habit escaping from his yard into a busy street. His family tries everything, including putting up fences, to protect him, but Ed just can't stop himself .
Children and adults colored pictures of a dog while the story was read. Afterward, they were asked questions that encouraged additional conversation, such as: "Do you have a habit that you can't stop?" And "Does someone in your family has a habit they can't stop?"
Members of AA often bring their young children to adult meetings, said Dangerfield, but they usually sit in the back with an iPad or book because the programming is not for them.
AA has programs called Alateen to support teenagers whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking or addiction.
But this is the first Utah program that Dangerfield is aware of that puts the focus on young children, up to 12 years old. The class takes its name from "Emotional Sobriety: The Next Frontier," an essay written in 1958 by AA founder Bill Wilson. Emotional sobriety has been described as the ability to deal with feelings positively.
The Focus on the Family Group meets Saturdays at 7 a.m. at the Alano Club, 5056 S. 300 West, Murray, and the whole family is encouraged to attend.
"It's a children's program, but they can't come on their own. They have to have their parents there so they can work the steps together," said Dangerfield, who is a firm believer that parents should not shield children from family addiction.
Dangerfield has attended an AA program for many years and raised her six children to understand the 12 steps, because she wanted them to understand the disease and learn coping strategies.
"It hurts and they can be afraid, scared, angry, confused and upset," said Dangerfield. "But they have to know they are not alone."
email@example.com Emotional Sobriety Focus on the The Family
A new group for young children who have a parent, sibling, grandparent or other close relatives who suffers from addiction.
When • Saturday at 7 a.m.
Where • Alano Club, 5056 S. 300 West, Murray
Cost • Free, donations accepted
Contact • Elene Dangerfield, 801-573-5509