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Al-Anon (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Alcoholism affects more than just the individual addicted to alcohol. As alcoholism continues to progress, the negative effects extend to family members and close friends, especially if the affected individual sinks deep into the pit of addiction. 

And as Alcoholics Anonymous was formed to help people looking to overcome addiction, Al-Anon was formed to cater to the unique needs of family members and friends of addicted individuals. 

Al-Anon recognizes that loved ones of alcoholics struggle just as much as the victims do, especially when dealing with chronic alcoholism. 

If you want to find out more about Al-Anon, then you couldn’t be in a better place. 

Read on as we take a closer look at the main features, objectives, and advantages of Al-Anon. We’ll even tackle some frequently asked questions that you may have about the increasingly popular support group.

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More About Al-Anon 

Al-Anon has a similar history to its older sibling, AA. The mutual support group was founded by Lois Wilson, wife to AA founder Bill Wilson, with the sole intention of creating a network of family members of people recovering from or (struggling with) alcoholism. 

Lois felt incomplete after dedicating so much of her time and energy to helping her husband overcome his alcohol use disorder, especially after the formation of AA. 

Since AA served former alcoholics, Lois was inclined to create a group that would tackle the unique needs of people living with (or directly helping) recovering alcoholics. 

The fundamental role of Al-Anon is to help family members and friends learn positive coping mechanisms and find better ways to assist their loved ones in their pursuit of lifelong recovery. 

Therefore, by creating a community of people dealing with the same issues, Al-Anon has made it easier for members to relay their issues in non-judgmental and compassionate settings. 

It’s also worth noting that Al-Anon has a teen group dubbed Alateen, which we’ll analyze further in the next section.  

What Is Alateen?

Alateen is a platform for young people, typically between 13 to 18, who’ve been affected in one way or another by the drinking habits of close family members or parents. 

The program allows members to share their various experiences to give one another hope and strength to cope with underlying addiction issues at home. 

Members participate in regular discussions where they discuss difficulties, all while encouraging one another to stay firm and develop positive coping mechanisms. 

Although Alateen is primarily designed for teenagers seeking to share their issues in warm, accommodative settings, Alateen remains adamant that it’s not for teenagers in search of therapy programs or help for drug or drinking-related issues

Alateen is also not a place to complain about addicted guardians or parents. It’s simply a platform for sharing educational resources and providing one another with the lessons and experiences needed to power through living in setups with alcoholics. 

What You Can Expect From An Al-Anon Meeting 

Al-Anon opens its doors to everyone affected by other people’s drinking behavior. If you’re constantly worried about a loved one’s drinking habits and the impact they can have on your family or friendship, then Al-Anon might be just what you need. 

It’s normal to feel scared or anxious, especially if you’ve never been to an Al-Anon meeting before. 

Here are some of the things you can expect when attending an Al-Anon meeting. 

Anonymity: Like most mutual self-help groups, Al-Anon respects member privacy and doesn’t allow members to share what has been discussed during meetings. 

No religious affiliation: Although Al-Anon observes the 12-steps that rely on a higher power, it does not endorse a particular religion and remains firm that members are allowed to choose (or stick to) their preferred religions. 

12-Steps: Al-Anon observes the 12-steps of most other self-help groups. The difference, however, is that Al-Anon’s steps are slightly modified to suit the needs of members who don’t have alcohol addiction problems. 

Exchange isn’t mandatory: While communicating about a stressful issue can help you heal and settle in faster, members aren’t required to respond to questions or share about personal issues. 

Volunteer-inspired: There are no experts at Al-Anon, as all members are volunteers looking to help out one another. Therefore, once you get comfortable enough, you too can share your experiences and perhaps empower other members as well. 

What Are The 12 Steps of Al-Anon 

Al-Anon’s 12 steps are adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 steps. However, the 12-steps are modified to suit the unique needs of members, as explained below. 

Admission to being powerless: Members learn that addiction is not their fault and that they cannot control their loved one’s alcohol dependence. Acceptance is the first step to overcoming (or managing) the effects of living with an individual struggling with alcoholism. 

Belief in a Higher Power that can restore sanity: Members usually become distraught to the brink of breaking down. But by releasing the pressure and believing in a Higher Power, it becomes possible to let go and hope that the loved one will eventually change. 

Intentional decision to surrender all needs and Issues to the Higher Power: At this stage, members learn to let go of what they can’t control, including their loved ones’ struggle with alcohol abuse. 

Conducting an honest moral inventory: A massive part of the program is understanding that no man is perfect and that it’s normal to make mistakes. Members assess their errors that may have either promoted or led to their loved ones’ alcohol use disorders. 

Admitted to the Higher Power, ourselves and others of our wrongs: Members get to examine the issues they stated in the moral inventory. The analysis allows for a deeper look into the issue and admittance to being vulnerable and human. 

Ready to allow the Higher Power to remove the character defects: This crucial step allows members to dissociate from their defects by allowing the Higher Power to take full control. It forms the basis of the program and helps achieve peace of mind despite not having everything figured out. 

Humbly request the Higher Power to remove the shortcomings: This part helps members understand how they might have been judgmental and even controlling, which pushed the addict further away. 

Create a list of all people harmed and be willing to make amends: Members learn to forgive themselves and also seek forgiveness from others that they might have wronged when coping with an addicted loved one. 

Make direct amends to people whenever possible: Members are required to seek forgiveness for the wrongs they commit either knowingly or unknowingly. 

Continuous personal inventory: It’s normal for members to slip up every now and then, especially when facing the full-blown effects of addiction. As such, members are required to conduct a continuous personal inventory in order to make amends immediately. 

Seeking continuous contact with a Higher Power: At this step, members are urged to become intentional about their relationship with a Higher Power and seek him actively. 

Spread the message to others in need: The final step is the realization that the journey is lifelong and that members must continue to support one another while also reaching out to other people that might need help. 

Advantages of Al-Anon

Helps Family Members Heal

Dealing with an addicted loved one can prove traumatic for most people, especially those who experience the negative effects firsthand. Al-Anon helps family members (or affected friends) heal from the disappointment that results from the actions of an addict. 

Members get to share about their respective plights, disappointment, and even anger, which helps release built-up anger or frustration. 

Changed Perception of Addicts

Most family members (or friends) often struggle to understand the behavior of an addicted individual. However, by attending Al-Anon meetings, members get to view alcohol use disorder as a disease, which helps change how people approach addicts. 

Instead of viewing alcoholics as failures, Al-Anon members start to view them as people that need help and assistance. 

Support from People Undergoing Similar Issues 

It can be hard to deal with an alcoholic on your own, especially if you’re not comfortable discussing personal issues with people who might judge your situation instead of providing support. 

Al-Anon understands that people living with alcoholics need support and therefore tailors its programs to help its members deal with their internal issues. You’ll be interacting with people who’ve been directly affected by alcoholism, which helps create a safe, accommodative space.

Helps Members Let Go Of Negative Emotions

Feelings of anger, fear, frustration, and disappointment, if not well-handled, can lead to mental illnesses like anxiety and even depression.

However, by joining Al-Anon, you’ll get to share and listen to other people’s experiences, which besides helping you heal, will allow you to let go of negative emotions that can affect your mental health. 

Members Learn How to Handle Addicted Loved Ones

Another major advantage of joining Al-Anon is members learn ways to handle their loved ones struggling with addiction. 

Instead of taking a judgmental approach, members learn to be compassionate, supportive, and understanding, which draws the addicted individual closer, making it easy to offer help. 

Members also learn about some of the negative ways of handling people struggling with alcoholism. An improved understanding of addiction and how it affects people allows family members to cope well without creating toxic environments that can strain relationships. 

Acceptance of the Situation

Many people blame themselves for their loved ones’ addiction problems. However, Al-Anon teaches members that they are not responsible for their loved ones’ actions. 

Instead of self-blame, Al-Anon empowers members to trust that they can overcome their emotions and support their loved ones unconditionally. Acceptance provides peace of mind and ensures that family members of drug addicts develop positive coping mechanisms. 

FAQs About Al-Anon

Is Al-Anon a Religious Fellowship?

Al-Anon is a spiritual fellowship and not a religious one.

Unlike some of the best drug rehab centers, the support group focuses more on self-awareness through submission to a higher power. Members usually avoid discussing specific religious doctrine as the group opens its doors to people of all faiths. 

Is Al-Anon free? 

Al-Anon is free as members are not required to part with any fees to attend meetings. A donation basket is usually passed at the end of a meeting for members to contribute what they are comfortable to part with. 

How does Al-Anon Help? 

Al-Anon brings together people who are affected by the drinking behavior of a family member(s) or even close friends. Members share their personal experiences with the aim of supporting and helping others. 

By sharing with people in a similar situation, you’ll get to let go of feelings of frustration, anger, and even hatred. The compassionate environment makes it easy to share stressful (and at times embarrassing) issues, which in turn helps promote internal healing. 

Do I Have to Say Anything At an Al-Anon Meeting?

The decision to share personal issues is at the discretion of members. As a newcomer, you’ll probably receive warm greetings and relevant literature materials. 

While communication isn’t mandatory, it is highly recommended as it will allow you to settle in and have your issues resolved a lot faster. 

However, you can still learn a lot by attending without saying a thing. All members are treated equally and are expected to maintain proper conduct throughout all meetings. 

Must I Register to Attend Al-Anon meetings? 

No registration is required to attend Al-Anon meetings. The group does not keep a membership list or check attendance. Members are welcome to attend meetings as frequently or infrequently as they wish. 

Are Al-Anon Meetings Confidential?

Al-Anon meetings are 100% confidential as members are not allowed to disclose what they hear or see during meetings. The principle of confidentiality helps make the group a safe space for members, regardless of what they might be going through. 

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Wrapping Up 

Al-Anon has been around for quite some time and comfortably ranks as one of the best places for family and friends of alcoholics to receive support. 

If you’ve been going through a hard time dealing with your loved one’s drinking problem, it is advisable to enroll in a mutual support group like Al-Anon to meet and interact with people in similar situations. 

Besides receiving support from other members, you’ll also learn some of the right ways to handle a friend or family member struggling with alcohol use disorder. 

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