Al-Anon is a mutual support group designed for the families of people with alcohol use disorder. In these groups, members meet together and share their struggles with one other. Al-Anon is meant to help them cope with their family situations. Living with someone with alcohol problems is stressful, and it can lead to lots of conflicts and rough family dynamics. Al-Anon aims to address those issues.
If you’re tight on money, here’s more good news for you. Al-Anon is totally free to join. You can attend meetings as you please.
Are you curious about Al-Anon and how it can help you? Read on for more about it.
What is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon sounds strikingly similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is also a support group, but it’s for the people who actually have drinking problems. Al-Anon, on the other hand, is designed for the families of people with substance abuse issues.
Both groups operate under the same “12 steps”, making them known as “12-step groups.”
If you have a relative who is enrolled in AA, you would benefit a lot from joining Al-Anon. You aren’t required, though, to join Al-Anon.
On the other hand, if your relative refuses to get help, you can still decide to join Al-Anon. You don’t have to bring your loved one with substance abuse problems with you.
Al-Anon is on a constant mission to provide “strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers.”
What are the “12 steps”?
Al-Anon operates under 12 key principles to help the families of individuals suffering from substance abuse. These are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore our 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.
What happens in Al-Anon meetings?
As a mutual support group, each member gives and receives help from each other. In every meeting, members usually share with each other what it’s like to live with a loved one who has substance abuse problems. They can also ask questions and learn from each other.
Sharing is purely voluntary. If you’re a bit shy to open up, you can tell the group that you prefer to just listen. Later on, when you’re more comfortable, you can start sharing your experiences too.
Do all Al-Anon groups work the same way?
All Al-Anon groups follow the 12 steps, but each group is different. If you find a lot of groups near you, you can even attend several groups first before settling on one. Find the group where you feel most comfortable so you can maximize the support you get. Similarly, you can help your fellow members better if you’re at ease with the group.
What if I’m not religious? I’ve heard that Al-Anon talks a lot about God.
The 12 steps of Al-Anon emphasize the role of a higher power. Despite this, you don’t have to believe in God to join the group. As long as you’re living with a loved one with an alcohol use disorder, and you need support from people in the same situation, you’re welcome to join.
If you do not subscribe to any kind of faith, you could think of the “higher power” as the group itself. They won’t force you to believe in God. The important thing is recognizing something greater than yourself that will help you overcome the challenges of living with an alcoholic.
Are there professional therapists in Al-Anon?
Please take note that Al-Anon does not operate any rehab facilities. They do not employ psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, or any mental health professional. They don’t provide professional therapies.
If professional help is what you need, consult with licensed mental health practitioners. Al-Anon is not a replacement for rehab or professional therapy. They only provide mutual support.
But if you’re going through sessions with a therapist, you may still join Al-Anon if you like. In fact, having both a support group and professional help would benefit you more. Your therapist provides you with research-backed interventions for your mental health, while Al-Anon gives you a sense of community – that you are not alone in your battle.
How does Al-Anon not charge anything?
Unlike other support groups and interventions, Al-Anon is completely free of charge. That’s great if you don’t have a lot of money to spare. All you need to spend on is transportation to and from the meeting place.
How do they manage to give their services for free?
Al-Anon and most 12-step groups rely on donations to keep themselves afloat. Both meeting attendees and wealthy backers give money. In each meeting, expect a donation basket to be passed along, but you’re not required to donate. But if you do have extra money, and you’re feeling generous, by all means give. Your Al-Anon group is counting on your support as well.
How do I find an Al-Anon group?
To find a group near you, you may browse the Al-Anon website. Remember that different groups conduct meetings in different ways, so you can explore various groups first before settling into one you’re comfortable with.