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Al-Anon: Support Groups for Those Affected by Alcoholics – Addiction Center

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Founded in 1951, Al-Anon is a support organization for the friends and family members of those struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Lois Wilson, also known as Lois W., founded Al-Anon 16 years after her husband founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Faced with the difficulties of supporting a loved one with an AUD in her own life, she created an organization for people like her.
Al-Anon is an organization self-supported through member donations. Meetings are available to help family members and friends of those with an addiction to cope and better serve their loved ones, even if their loved ones haven’t recovered. The key focus of Al-Anon is to support members by letting them know they aren’t alone in their struggle.
Al-Anon treats the disease of alcoholism as a family illness, because it has a negative impact on both the drinker and those around them. The friend and family support system is integral to recovery. Some family members blame themselves for their loved one’s drinking or may not understand why recovery isn’t their loved one’s priority. Meetings tackle these issues and help members understand alcoholism as a family illness.
Al-Anon also has a specific group called Alateen catered to young people affected by alcoholism in their family. These meetings allow young people to meet with others their own age, making the experiences more relatable and beneficial.
More Frequently Asked Questions
Al-Anon meetings are for anyone who is affected by someone else’s drinking. If you worry about someone’s drinking habit or if their lifestyle affects you personally, Al-Anon can help you.
Some people are hesitant to go to their first meeting because they don’t know what to expect. Some things to remember when considering attending a meeting:
Al-Anon meetings are conducted under a mantra that allows attendees to “take what they like and leave the rest.” In this manner, meetings focus on sharing experiences and hardships rather than telling attendees what they should do.
Most meetings start with a reading of Al Anon’s 12-Step program. These steps are adapted, nearly verbatim, from the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Much like AA, Al-Anon members take on a sponsor who helps them work through the steps and who is available for support in times of hardship. The steps are:
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Although Al-Anon is not a religious program, members do have an acceptance of a higher power. However, the term “higher power” is open to interpretation of one’s own personal beliefs. Al-Anon accepts members of all religions and beliefs, and no one is forced to alter their beliefs.
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Al-Anon members benefit by being introduced to people who can relate to having a loved one with an AUD. Although everyone is different, Al-Anon members have all had similar experiences in their struggles. The key benefit of Al-Anon is being able to speak with others have these similar experiences. There are Al-Anon meetings all across the nation.
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Published: March 21, 2014 | Last Edited: September 12, 2022
Jeffrey Juergens
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional: December 7, 2018
David Hampton
David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with area treatment centers, recovery orientated nonprofit organizations, as well as being a keynote speaker for various recovery-focused events.
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