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What is Al-anon?

For over 50 years, Al-Anon (which includes Al-ateen for younger members) has been offering hope and help to families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts.

It is estimated that each addict/alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people... alcoholism is truly a family disease. No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the fellowship.

How can it help me? Many who come 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 change. We all come to meetings because we want and need help.

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.

For over 50 years, Al-Anon (which includes Al-ateen for younger members) has been offering hope and help to families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts.

We offer the following directly from:

Loved ones often feel helpless!

Friends and family members often feel helpless, as they watch someone they care about, someone they love, struggle with alcohol or some other substance. They don’t know what to do and where to go for answers. They feel alone and isolated.

It's an organization dedicated to those people, friends who are there to help family members through the though times and provide support. Those family members do not have to be alone. They can have peace of mind.

Family often suffers as much as addict/alcoholic

One therapist stated that treating someone with a substance use disorder is actually easier than treating the family member who is watching. The reason given for this odd phenomenon was that the family member was so wrapped up in worrying about and caring for the one they love that they are not capable of self-care.

People take on the problems of the one who has the disease. Even if the person goes into treatment, the family member might still suffer. That’s why many people in need will not attend an Al-anon meeting, because they are too wrapped up in the problems of the person with the disease.

Members understand

Family members may struggle for years before ever seeking help and the members understand that it’s easier for family members to continue coping with the disease than it is to embrace a solution. It’s natural to feel this anxiety, because even though a person has searched for answers, they may have given up on finding them.

The members support each other. People seeking information can just go and gather, without concern about being a member. The members understand. But you may be surprised to know that there are no dues or membership fees. Everything is supported by contributions, free and voluntary. No pressure. Just go and see what’s going on.

For those who want to take a closer look, here’s how to find a meeting, directly from the web site:

How do I find a meeting?

It may be listed in the white pages of your local telephone directory. Cities with local information services are listed on our Web site. Many of those listed post meeting information on their Web sites. For meeting information in Canada, the US, and Puerto Rico you can call 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm ET.

We have yet to scratch the surface on the many services offered by Al-anon, so we invite you to visit their web site and take a look for yourself.

If you are pondering the idea of getting some help and support, here is another link to the Al-anon web site. Answer the questions they pose for you.,

Al-ateen is a part of Al-anon specifically designed to help young people. A separate questionnaire is located on this link.

This web site strongly endorses the Al-anon organization and its members. No matter your circumstance, we are confident you will find love and support from the members. We encourage you to examine their information and give them a try.


Drug Addiction Al-Anon Note: The professional opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Family Groups. Al-Anon does not endorse, support, or oppose outside entities, opinions, or issues.

By Jeffrey D. Roth, MD, FASAM Addiction Psychiatrist, Chicago, Illinois
Editor, Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery

“As an addiction psychiatrist, I am grateful to have Al Anon available for my patients who have been affected by anyone’s use of alcohol. I recommend it whenever I see a patient who complains of anxiety, depression, or a variety of physical problems that are commonly worsened by close contact with the disease of alcoholism.

“I do a complete family history with anyone I am treating. I specifically ask about alcohol use in grandparents, parents, husband/wifes, siblings, children, grandchildren, and significant others. I also ask about other diseases that often thinly veil alcoholism, such as cirrhosis, pancreatitis, or other medical consequences of alcoholism, since the patient and the family frequently deny the alcoholism.

“I do not insist that the patient or I make a clear connection between the patient’s complaints and the presence of alcoholism. I suggest, Roth continues,

“the patient use their groups as part of the diagnostic process and I use the familiar recommendation that the person may decide after attending six meetings whether the program seems to be useful.

Can be very helpful

“Frequently the most useful information emerges from the patient’s reactions to the Al-anon meetings, Roth observes. A feeling of not belonging is usually connected to the sense of estrangement that is common among alcoholic families.

If the patient felt burdened by listening to others at a meeting, it is a telltale sign that this person assumes overwhelming responsibility for someone else’s behavior.

“I have seen incredible progress among my patients who use Al-anon as part of their recovery process. A new sense of well-being, the ability to participate fully in intimate relationships, and an improved quality of work and satisfaction in a career are evidence of growth and change.

I have also witnessed patients who start their recovery in Al anon and expand their recovery to include other areas of their life. I’ve also seen patients who are recovering from other difficulties, including their own alcoholism, enhance their progress by participating in meeting.

“As a physician, I know of no other prescription with such magnificent benefits, with so few side effects, without any required cost. Al anon is available almost anywhere in the world and with the advent of on-line Al-anon meetings through the Internet.

"One other selfish benefit to the professional who refers patients to Al-anon: we learn a tremendous amount of information that is useful to us from the patients who go!”

Common Question that Al-anon can try to help you with:

My husband/wife is drinking all the time, but I don’t know if he/she is an alcoholic?

The important point to focus on is the frequency of drinking. Drinking “all the time” is a red flag in this situation. However, that does not mean your husband/wife is an alcoholic. Your husband/wife may be abusing alcohol, which is a serious concern. In either case, you need to get your facts gathered and then you need to verify those facts and try to avoid making judgments or jumping to conclusions.

“Drinking all the time” signifies a pattern of behavior. In so many cases, a person would rather admit to being mentally ill than admitting they can’t control their drinking.

In the Spring 2007 edition of About AA, Dr. Marsha Epstein, of the Tucker Health Center in Los Angeles, said “No one is quick to admit to current problems with drugs or alcohol. When I was in private practice years ago, I saw about 2000 patients over four and a half years and NO ONE ever admitted current heavy drinking.”

You can read by her thoughts that you may know there is a problem, but your husband/wife is not likely to agree with you. You are going to need some help.

The reason I suggest documenting the behavior is to give a professional person the “lay of the land” so to speak, to facilitate their assessment. Dr. Epstein also says that people will readily talk about the drinking habits of another family member or friend, all the while not admitting to any problem of their own.

There are techniques involved in helping a person open up and talk to a therapist, but not everybody is going to know how to be a counselor and do professional assessments. Rather, partner with a professional to get the help your husband/wife needs.

How can you know if your husband/wife is abusing alcohol or if he/she an alcoholic?
The line might be a thin one, but in general, alcohol abuse is drinking to the point of negatively effecting health and personal relationships. They may have some problems at work. Alcoholism is when the person becomes dependent on alcohol.

They develop a craving and will continue drinking no matter what happens to them. They may develop health problems, they may lose interest in their family and friends, and they need to drink more and more just to get the same effect. When they stop drinking, they need a drink.

Again, you need a partner to help you. As the one closest to the person who is abusing alcohol or may already be an alcoholic, you need training and support. You can’t be therapist and husband/wife. It would be like a marriage counselor trying to help their husband/wife. Get a professional partner.

Al-Anon was created for people in your situation, to help you get the support you need. There are local groups all over the country. Find a group in your area and allow that group to be your sounding board, your confidant and your source of support. Allow a professional alcohol counselor to do the heavy lifting in dealing with your husband/wife. You’re not alone.

For more answers about Al-Anon please go to Intervention

Visit Abusing Alcohol Parents for more information about parents attending Al-anon.

For more information about AA meetings please visit: AA-Meetings.

For more about having an intervention visit: Drug Use Intervention.

Have a question or story about Al-anon or meetings in your area?

Please ask your question about Al-anon or meetings in your area.

News... About Al-anon or meetings in your area

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and Finally Remember:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8

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