What is Al-Anon? Al-Anon is an organization of groups of relatives and friends of alcoholics who gather together to solve their common problems. Members share their experience, strength, and hope at Al-Anon group meetings.
Who are the members of Al-Anon and Alateen? Al-Anon and Alateen members are people just like you and me–people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking. They are parents, children, spouses, partners, brothers, sisters, other family members, friends, employers, employees, and coworkers of alcoholics. No matter what our specific experience has been we share a common bond: we feel our lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.
Do I have to say anything at a meeting? It is your choice to speak or not during the meetings. Newcomers are welcomed to meetings, usually provided with literature and a local meeting list, and invited to listen and learn. Some meetings offer beginners’ meetings, specifically for newcomers. Members are available to answer questions before or after the meetings.
Will anyone say I’ve been there? One of the Al-Anon program’s basic principles is that of anonymity. Meetings are confidential, and we do not disclose whom we see or what we hear at meetings to anyone.
How much does it cost? There are no dues or fees in Al-Anon and Alateen meetings. Most groups pass a basket for voluntary contributions. Members are asked to contribute what they can afford, so that the group can pay rent, provide literature, and offer support to local and worldwide service centers.
Is it religious? Al-Anon Family Groups is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. We avoid discussion of specific religious creed, and members of all faiths (or of none) are welcome. Our Twelve Steps ask us to find a “Power greater than ourselves” who can help us solve our problems and find serenity. Each member is free to define that power in his or her own way.
What is alcoholism? Alcoholism is widely recognized as a disease of compulsive drinking, which can be arrested, but not cured. It is a progressive illness, which will get only worse as long as the person continues to drink. Total abstinence from drinking is the only way to arrest the disease. Alcoholism affects the entire family; indeed, everyone who has contact with the alcoholic is affected. Unfortunately, the only person who can stop the alcoholic from drinking is the alcoholic himself or herself.
Who are alcoholics? They could be anyone, from all backgrounds and walks of life. They may function fairly well, but some part of their life is suffering. Their drinking causes a continuing and growing problem in their lives, and the lives they touch.
How do alcoholics affect family and friends? Alcoholism is a family disease. The disease affects all those who have a relationship with a problem drinker. Those of us closest to the alcoholic suffer the most, and those who care the most can easily get caught up in the behavior of another person. We react to the alcoholic’s behavior. We focus on them, what they do, where they are, how much they drink. We try to control their drinking for them. We take on the blame, guilt, and shame that really belong to the drinker. We can become as addicted to the alcoholic, as the alcoholic is to alcohol. We, too, can become ill.
What if I’m not ready to go to a meeting? There are a variety of reasons why people are reluctant to attend their first meeting. First, they’re so deeply engaged in trying to cope with a stressful situation that it’s hard to break away from engrained patterns of behavior. On the one hand, we know that any possible solution is likely to be found somewhere we haven’t yet looked. But on the other hand, it can be worrisome to try something that seems entirely new. Many Al-Anon members struggled for many years with the difficult challenges of coping with the effects of alcoholism. It’s often easier to envision continued difficulties than a positive solution. That’s why it’s easy to think of so many reasons not to attend an Al-Anon meeting. If you feel anxiety about attending an Al-Anon meeting, you’re not alone. Many people have felt that way. But overcoming that reluctance is an opportunity for personal growth, the first of many that the Al-Anon program offers. It’s the first steps on the road to recovery. Don’t worry about whether or not you want to become a “member”. Just visit a variety of different meetings to gather information – to hear how the people there handle their issues with alcoholics. It may be that some of their experience will be helpful to you.
My friend/loved one is a drug addict. Can I go to an Al-Anon meeting? The primary purpose of Al-Anon is to provide support to the friends and families of alcoholics. In a recent membership survey 35% of our members said they joined our program because of a loved one’s drug addiction and that their lives had improved since attending meetings. There is another program, Nar-Anon, which is for people affected by a loved one’s drug addiction. You can visit their website at Nar-Anon.org . You are also welcome to try Al-Anon, then decide if the Al-Anon program might be helpful to you.
Can I bring the alcoholic with me to the meetings? Al-Anon is not a program for finding or maintaining sobriety. It is a program to help the families of alcoholics recover from the effects of someone else’s drinking.