Al-Anon and Alateen
What is Al-Anon?
Alcoholism is a disease that not only affects you, the alcoholic, but also your family and loved ones. While you are dealing with addiction, your family and friends need support just like you do. Lois W., the wife of Alcoholics Anonymous cofounder Bill W., recognized this and created Al-Anon in the 1940s for this very reason. Al-Anon is a Twelve Step fellowship that offers hope and help to families and friends of alcoholics. It doesn’t matter if the alcoholic is currently seeking help, is in recovery, or even admits that there is a problem. Family members or friends can still get help for themselves.
What is Alateen?
Alateen is for teenagers affected by alcoholism. It is sponsored by Al-Anon and operates the same way as Al-Anon does. If you have children who are teenagers, they might be more comfortable in this type of meeting than a regular Al-Anon group.
Can people attend Al-Anon if they are family or friends of drug addicts, not alcoholics?
There is an organization called Nar-Anon specifically for people affected by someone else’s drug use. However, Nar-Anon meetings aren’t as easy to locate as Al-Anon meetings. For this reason, many Al-Anon meetings welcome family and friends of drug addicts. The words “drug addict” can be substituted for “ alcoholic” when people are talking about their needs at a meeting.
Who attends meetings?
Parents, children, spouses, partners, siblings, other family members, friends, employers, employees, and co-workers of alcoholics attend Al-Anon meetings. All these people have something in common: their lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.
Is Al-Anon for your family and friends? Think about it. You’ve made some pretty big changes in your life. It’s going to take some time for your family and friends to get used to the new you. Just as joining a Twelve Step group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a way to support your own sobriety, your friends and family members need support too. Al-Anon is a fellowship where your friends and family can interact with people who are in the same situation as they are—they are affected by someone else’s drinking.
Recovery Action Step
Invite friends or family members to an Al-Anon or Alateen meeting. If they attend the meeting, be sure to ask them what they thought of it. Be aware that, just as with the confidentiality you experience in AA, you should respect their desire for confidentiality as well.
What goes on at meetings?
Basically, Al-Anon or Alateen meetings use the same format as other Twelve Step meetings, such as AA or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). They are an anonymous fellowship where people are only recognized by their first names and last initial. They are usually held at churches or other public buildings.
Meetings typically open with an introduction to the Twelve Steps. The Twelve Steps are then recited by the group. Then a member may read one of the Twelve Traditions. The meeting begins after the Serenity Prayer is read.
People at meetings share their experiences. They do not lecture, preach, instruct, or advise others. Also, people do not interrupt each other when someone else is speaking. The meeting chair is the only exception; he or she may remind people to bring their sharing to a close.
Although there are no dues required, a basket is passed around. People can contribute any amount, although most people give a dollar or two. This money helps pay the room rent; buy coffee, snacks, and literature; and support the local and national offices of the fellowship.
How can you locate a meeting?
Contact Al- Anon, Nar-Anon, or Alateen by phone or check their website to find a meeting in your area. You may also try the white pages in your local phone book.