What is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon is a “worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.” Al-Anon was founded in 1951 by Lois Wilson, 16 years after her husband, Bill Wilson, founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Like Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon is an organization that is fully supported by member donations. Meetings are available to help family members and friends of alcoholics better cope with their experiences and relationships, whether or not the alcoholics in their life are in recovery. The focus of Al-Anon is to support members by letting them know they are not alone in their struggle.
Alcoholism: A Family Illness
Al-Anon treats the disease of alcoholism as a family illness, meaning it has a negative impact on not just the alcoholic, but those around them, such as family members. Al-Anon meetings cover issues that often arise for friends and family of alcoholics, such as blaming themselves for their loved one’s drinking, confusion on how to help, feelings of despair and powerlessness over their loved one’s actions, and resentment toward the alcoholic or alcoholism, for its impact.
Al-Anon also has a sub-group called Alateen, which is the same program offered to younger family members of alcoholics.
What to Expect from an Al-Anon Meeting
Al-Anon meetings are open to anyone who is affected by someone else’s drinking. It is normal to feel hesitant before attending one’s first meeting, and here are some things to remember:
- Al-Anon, like AA, is an anonymous program
- No one is required to speak or share if they do not wish
- There are many different types of meetings, and some may feel more beneficial to a certain individual than others
- Al-Anon has no religious affiliation
- Meetings are centered on the foundation of Al-Anon’s 12 Steps and Traditions
Al-Anon’s 12 Steps
The 12 steps of Al-Anon, which are read at the beginning of many meetings, are adapted, nearly verbatim, from the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Like AA, members of Al-Anon also are encouraged to get a sponsor to guide them through the process of working the steps.
The steps are:
- 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
Finding an Al-Anon Meeting
Al-Anon meetings are available throughout the nation, as well as worldwide. Meetings are often held in public spaces such as churches or community centers. Nearly all groups meet on a weekly basis, with some meetings multiple times each week, and range from very small groups to very large. For more information and to find an Al-Anon meeting near you, head to the Al-Anon website, www.al-anon.org.
At Oasis Recovery, we believe recovery is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and we support clients in exploring many different modalities of recovery, including 12-step meetings, to find their path of greatest freedom. For more information, download our free e-book to get started on a journey of mindful recovery today.