New to Al-Anon?
Q. How will Al-Anon help me?
Many who come to Al-Anon/Alateen are in despair, feeling hopeless, unable to believe that things can ever change. We want our lives to be different, but nothing we have done has brought about changes. We all come to Al-Anon because we want and need help.
In Al-Anon and Alateen, members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.
Q. What is Al-Anon? When was it formed?
In the late 1930s in the United States and Canada, close relatives of recovering alcoholics realized that they too needed help. They sought solutions by following the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and formed themselves into family groups.
In 1951 these groups were drawn together and became Al-Anon Family Groups.
Q. Who are the members of Al-Anon and Alateen?
Al-Anon and Alateen members are people just like you and me–people who have been affected by someone else's drinking. They are parents, children, spouses, partners, brothers, sisters, other family members, friends, employers, employees, and co-workers of alcoholics.
Q. Do I have to say anything at a meeting?
It is your choice to speak or not during the meetings. Newcomers are welcomed to meetings, usually provided with literature and a local meeting list, and invited to listen and learn. Some meetings offer beginners' meetings, specifically for newcomers. Members are available to answer questions before or after the meeting.
Q. Is this a religious fellowship?
Al-Anon Family Groups is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. Our "Twelve Steps" ask us to find a "Power greater than ourselves" who can help us solve our problems and find serenity. Each member is free to define that power in his or her own way.
Q. What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is widely recognized as a disease of compulsive drinking, which can be arrested, but not cured. It is a progressive illness, which will get only worse as long as the person continues to drink. We believe total abstinence from drinking is the only way to arrest the disease. Alcoholism affects the entire family; indeed, everyone who has contact with the alcoholic is affected. Unfortunately, the only person who can stop the alcoholic from drinking is the alcoholic himself or herself.
Q. Who are alcoholics?
They could be anyone, from all backgrounds and walks of life. Over 95 percent of alcoholics have families, friends, and jobs. They may function fairly well, but some part of their life is suffering. Their drinking causes a continuing and growing problem in their lives, and the lives they touch.
Q. Why is this referred to as a family disease?
Alcoholism is a family disease. The disease affects all those who have a relationship with a problem drinker. Those of us closest to the alcoholic suffer the most, and those who care the most can easily get caught up in the behaviour of another person. We react to the alcoholic's behaviour. We focus on them, what they do, where they are, how much they drink. We try to control their drinking for them. We take on the blame, guilt, and shame that really belong to the drinker. We can become as addicted to the alcoholic, as the alcoholic is to alcohol. We, too, can become ill.
Q. What is Alateen?
Alateen is part of the Al-Anon fellowship and is for young people who are affected by a problem drinker. Alateen members share their ideas and experience in order to gain a better understanding of alcoholism; they learn to accept it as an illness and so lessen its impact on their lives. By removing their preoccupation with the drinker's behaviour they are able to focus on their own development and sense of identity.