What is Al-Anon?
Alcoholism is a debilitating disorder that affects over 107 million people worldwide – but those who grapple with alcohol addiction are not the only ones who suffer at the hands of this disease. Spouses, children, siblings, parents, grandparents, friends, or even coworkers can be negatively impacted by someone else’s substance abuse and struggle to cope with the burden. Being unable to stop a loved one from their destructive behavior can result in those caught in the periphery to take on feelings of guilt or shame.
Al-Anon Family Groups was created to serve as a support group for those affected by an alcoholic family member or friend. In addition to helping alcoholic-adjacent loved ones cope with the stress of a family member’s disease, it also aims to teach members how they can be a positive and helpful member of the family unit. Research has shown that alcohol abusers face higher odds of successful recovery when they are supported by family, making this not only an effective way of dealing with a stressful situation but also playing a pivotal role in resolving the issue itself.
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Al-Anon Meeting FAQs
What are the Al-Anon 12 steps?
The 12 steps of Al-Anon are derived from the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
What does Al-Anon mean?
Al-Anon is the name of a support group organization for family and friends who are affected by their loved one’s alcohol use. You may find these groups referred to as Al-Anon Family Groups.
What is the difference between AA and Al-Anon?
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship developed to help those who want to stop drinking. Although family members and friends are welcome at open AA meetings, these groups are tailored to help the individuals who are struggling and not their loved ones. Al-Anon meetings are specifically tailored to the experiences of a user’s loved one.
What book does Al-Anon use?
Just as there are multiple texts referenced in Alcoholics Anonymous, this is also true for Al-Anon. However, the original Al-Anon text is called “The Al‑Anon Family Groups—Classic Edition”.
Who founded Al-Anon?
Al-Anon was cofounded in 1951 by Lois W. (the wife of the founder of AA) and Anne B.
What are the Al-Anon slogans?
There are a number of slogans repeated frequently as a part of Al-Anon. These slogans also serve as principles of the program and include:
- Easy Does it
- Keep An Open Mind
- Progress Not Perfection
- One Day At A Time
- Listen And Learn
- Together We Can Make It
- Keep It Simple
- First Thing First
- Let it Begin With Me
- Just For Today
- Let Go And Let God
- Live And Let Live
What Happens in Al-Anon Meetings?
Most Al-Anon meetings are topic discussions facilitated by the leader of a ‘chairperson’. These topics can range from coping mechanisms for the affected family members to how to address the alcoholic directly. A.A’s 12 Steps and 12 Traditions are used as the organization’s guiding principles and often applied in these discussions. Common Al-Anon topics include:
- Dealing with denial
- How to handle your anger
- Identifying your controlling behavior
- Enabling behavior
- Depression or sadness
- Being encouraging
Who Can Join Al-Anon?
Al-Anon membership is open to any and everyone who is directly affected by someone in their life with a drinking problem – although becoming a member is not necessary in order to attend a meeting. Meetings are free, confidential, and conducted on a walk-in basis. There is no type of commitment and participants can attend meetings as frequently or infrequently as they wish. All ages are welcome and children between the ages of 13 and 18 have access to a separate teen-focused support group called Alateen.
It’s important to note that Al-Anon focuses on the experiences and struggles of those close to the alcoholic – not the alcoholic themselves. While they technically can attend, Al-Anon is not designed to offer assistance for those hoping to achieve or maintain sobriety. Further, Al-Anon exclusively addresses the issue of alcohol abuse and therefore does not address other types of drug use such as cocaine or opioids.
Al-Anon is a spiritual-based group without a particular religious denomination. Those from all walks of faith – as well as those without – are welcome to join and attend meetings. Like A.A., this organization allows each member to interpret “higher power” (and other religious-mentions) in their own way.
A Brief History of Al-Anon
The origins of Al-Anon meetings are almost as old as AA itself. Beginning in 1939, families and friends of AA members began meeting amongst themselves. However, the organization was not official until it was formally founded in May of 1951 by two women: Anne B. and Lois W. (who was the wife of the iconic Bill W., the creator of Alcoholic Anonymous’s 12 step program). Today, Al-Anon has over 29,000 groups in 133 countries and nearly 400,000 members.
The name of this support group was purposely made to be a derivative of Alcoholics Anonymous. Although Al-Anon and AA are an abridged version of the same organization, the abbreviations are not used interchangeably.