Newsletter aims to help those who live with addicts CARROLL COUNTY

August 24, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

The message Donna Thompson wants to send in her newsletter for co-dependents is, "You're not sick."

Twelve years ago, when she started attending Al-Anon meetings in an effort to cope with her husband's alcoholism, she bought into the assessment she heard: Co-dependents -- the people who live with addicts and frequently cover up for them -- are as sick as the addicts, some Al-Anon members told her.

Today, happily married after three unhappy marriages and recently moved to Carroll County, Mrs. Thompson no longer agrees. The trouble with the "you're sick" diagnosis is, "It kept me in a victim mind-set," she says.

Mrs. Thompson began publishing her newsletter for co-dependents, Challenges, in March 1992. She started the newsletter on the proverbial shoestring, with a home computer and an ink-jet printer that can prepare camera-ready copy for printing. She doesn't pay contributing authors, although she has paid to reprint syndicated columns. She refuses to disclose the newsletter's circulation.

In place of money, she put 40 years' worth of experience into the newsletter. She was married twice to alcoholics, one of whom physically abused her. Eventually she got treatment for herself.

After becoming active in Al-Anon in the 1980s, she became a peer counselor and has led "Women Who Love Too Much" groups.

She says she started the newsletter because she felt recovered from co-dependency, and "I could reach more people through a newsletter than in meetings or on the street."

She married Stafford Thompson in 1989. His work as a consultant prompted them to move from Ohio to Maryland.

In addition to coping with her marriages, Mrs. Thompson wrote a play, worked as general manager for a summer theater, did radio interviews on a local station and worked as a fashion and feature writer for the Springfield, Mass., Herald.

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