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What is the Purpose of Al-Anon? 

Al-Anon is a community of relatives and friends of alcoholics. The fellowship shares their experiences, strengths, and hopes to solve their problems relating to knowing someone with alcoholism.

Members of Al-Anon believe that alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can help recovery. 

The purpose of the group is to help friends and families of alcoholics. Members practice the Twelve Steps and receive comfort and support while learning how to understand and encourage the individual experiencing alcoholism.

Whether an Al-Anon member’s loved one is still drinking or not, the organization provides hope and support to everyone affected by the alcoholism of a friend or family member.

The Al-Anon program of recovery is adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. It is based on the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, and the Twelve Concepts of Service.

Al-Anon is self-supporting through voluntary contributions, and members do not have to pay to join. The organization is not allied with any sect, denomination, institution, or political entity.

What are the Al-Anon Principles & 12 Steps?

The Al-Anon Twelve Steps have been adapted almost word-for-word from the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. They have encouraged spiritual growth for millions of Al-Anon/Alateen members. 

These Twelve Steps are:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. 
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  11. 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. 
  12. 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.

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Who can go to Al-Anon?

Al-Anon members consist of anyone who has been affected by someone else’s drinking. They are parents, partners, children, brothers, sisters, employers, coworkers of alcoholics, and more.

Everyone in Al-Anon has a shared common bond in that their lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Components of Al-Anon

There are various key components of Al-Anon:

Al-Anon Meetings 

Members of Al-Anon attend face-to-face meetings to discuss their experiences being close to someone with alcoholism. Everyone at the meeting discusses as an equal and has experienced a problem with someone else’s drinking.

During Al-Anon meetings, you are welcome to ask questions or talk about your situation. However, if you would rather just listen, you are free to say ‘I pass’ or explain that you would just like to listen.

Every meeting is different and is run how its members choose, within guidelines designed to encourage Al-Anon unity. It is recommended that you attend at least six separate meetings before you decide whether Al-Anon is useful to you or not.

Meetings focus on anonymity, meaning that the people in the room will respect the confidentiality of what you say. They will not approach you outside the discussion in a way that comprises your privacy or anyone else who attended.

Most meetings start with a reading of the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon. If you are new to Al-Anon, it may take some time to thoroughly understand how the Twelve Steps can help recover from the effects of a loved one’s drinking. Members often share the personal lessons they have learned from following these steps.

Al-Anon Family Groups

Al-Anon is short for Al-Anon Family Groups. The organization allows relatives and friends of drinkers to provide mutual support by sharing their experiences.

Alateen

Alateen is similar to Al-Anon, except the community consists of teenagers affected by someone else’s alcoholism. At Alateen meetings, young people share experiences, strength and hope to discover effective ways to cope with problems and discuss the difficulties of alcoholism. Members also encourage one another to learn and understand the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

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Benefits of Al-Anon for People Affected by Alcoholism 

Relatives, partners, and friends of an alcoholic are in a particularly vulnerable position. You may be experiencing shame, manipulation, secrecy, financial issues, legal problems, and physical and emotional trauma resulting from your loved one’s alcohol addiction.

Al-Anon connects you with other families and friends of people suffering from alcoholism experiencing similar struggles. Being part of the community allows you to seek confidential counsel and advice from people in a similar position to you. 

You can also share your successes, failures, and concerns in a supportive and empathetic environment. 

If your loved one is still drinking alcohol or is in recovery, Al-Anon can support you there too. 

Al-Anon can help you work through any negative feelings towards your loved one so you can understand their chronic disease and learn to forgive their actions and behaviors resulting from alcoholism.

How to Join Al-Anon: Resources for Newcomers

If you would like to join Al-Anon, join a meeting in your local area. Your nearest Al-Anon meeting location can be found online. You can visit al-anon.org to check local information services. Many of those listed provide meeting information on their websites.

Al-Anon: Common Questions and Answers

Here are the answers to some common questions about Al-Anon.

What does AFG mean in Al-Anon meetings? 

In regards to Al-Anon meetings, AFG stands for Al-Anon Family Groups.

What does qualifier mean in Al-Anon?

Most people attend Al-Anon meetings because they have a qualifier in their lives. A qualifier is someone close to them who has a drinking problem.

A qualifier can be your partner, mother, daughter, coworker, friend, and so on.

What is detachment with love?

Detachment with love means caring enough about someone to allow them to learn from their mistakes. It also means taking responsibility for your welfare and taking care of yourself without letting someone else’s addiction affect your mental well-being.

How do you know if you need Al-Anon?

If you are unsure whether you need to attend Al-Anon meetings, it is best to ask yourself one question. 

Is somebody else’s drinking affecting you? If the answer is yes, you are likely to benefit from Al-Anon meetings.

What is the difference between AA and Al-Anon?

AA helps alcoholics remain abstinent and recover from their addiction. Al-Anon supports the family, partners, children, and other people close to those suffering from alcoholism. This is whether the person in question is currently an alcoholic or used to be one.

Is there a big book for Al-Anon? 

The book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ is known by AA members as ‘The Big Book.’ It is the textbook for the original 12-step recovery program known by the same name.

Although Al-Anon’s roots are based in AA, there is not a big book for Al-Anon.

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Resources

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Core Purpose, Mission and Strategic Goals, Al-Anon, https://al-anon.org/for-members/board-of-trustees/core-purpose-mission-strategic-goals/ 

The Twelve Steps, Al-Anon, https://al-anon.org/for-members/the-legacies/the-twelve-steps/ 

Frequently Asked Questions, Al-Anon, https://al-anon.org/newcomers/faq/ 

Al-Anon Meetings, Al-Anon, https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/ 

What does Al-Anon do?, Al-Anon UK, https://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/what-does-al-anon-do/ 

Teen corner, Al-Anon, https://al-anon.org/newcomers/teen-corner-alateen/ 

Al-Anon guidelines, Al-Anon, https://al-anon.org/pdf/G3.pdf Timko, Christine et al. “Al-Anon newcomers: benefits of continuing attendance for six months.” The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse vol. 42,4, 2016, 441-9, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976777/

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