The members of Al-Anon and Alateen understand how it feels to come to a meeting for the first time. Since there may be a few things you are wondering about, we would like to share with you some answers to often-asked questions about the group and what happens at our meetings.
What is Al-Anon?
A worldwide organization that offers a self-help recovery program for the families and friends of alcoholics whether or not the alcoholic seeks help or even recognizes the existence of a drinking problem. Members give and receive comfort and understanding through a mutual exchange of experiences, strength and hope. Sharing of similar problems binds individuals and groups together in a bond that is protected by a policy of anonymity.
What Al-Anon is Not
A religious organization or a counseling agency. It is not a treatment center nor is it allied with any other organization offering such services. Al-Anon Family Groups, which includes Alateen for teenage members, neither express opinions on outside issues nor endorse outside enterprises. No dues or fees are required. Membership is voluntary, requiring only that one’s own life has been adversely affected by someone else’s drinking problem.
What Do You Learn in Al-Anon?
Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people;
Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others in the interest of another’s recovery;
Not to do for others what they could do for themselves;
Not to manipulate situations so others will eat, go to bed, get up, pay bills, not drink;
Not to cover up for anyone’s mistakes or misdeeds;
Not to create a crisis;
Not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events.
Who Are the Members of Al-Anon?
Members are all kinds of people from all walks of life: wives, husbands, lovers, sisters, brothers, children and parents of alcoholics. No matter what our relationship has been with a problem drinker, we share a common bond: we feel our lives have been deeply affected by another person's drinking. We meet together to share our experience, strength and hope.
How Will Al-Anon Help Me?
You will probably hear about a situation much like your own. If you don't find someone with the same set of circumstances, you may still be able to identify with the way many of us feel about the effects of alcoholism in our lives. We are all individuals striving to become the best people we can, each in our own way. That way is not the same for each of us, but there is help for everyone whose problem is alcoholism in others.
Will Anyone Say That They Saw Me There?
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our program. It provides a safe place for members to share. We use first names and last initials. We do not talk about the people we see, or repeat what we hear at meetings. We guard the anonymity of all Al-Anon / Alateen and AA members.
Is Al-Anon a Religious Fellowship?
Al-Anon is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. Members of any faith, or none at all, are welcome and we make it a point to avoid discussion of specific religious beliefs. The Al-Anon program is based on the spiritual idea that we can depend on a "Power greater than ourselves" for help in solving our problems and achieving peace of mind. We are free to define that power in our own terms and in our own way.
Does Al-Anon Have Professional Counselors or Therapists?
Al-Anon offers a non-professional self-help program of recovery.
Will Al-Anon Recommend Treatment Centers?
Because we are non-professional we do not recommend sources of outside help. Through sharing of our personal experiences, members gain insight into dealing with their own situations.
Who is Responsible for the Group?
We all are. We elect group officers to serve for short periods of time, perhaps three months to a year. In giving service to Al-Anon, as part of our recovery program, members volunteer to lead meetings, set up the room, display the literature and fill other group needs. At an Institutions or beginners group, experienced members lead the meeting.
How Many Groups Are There?
There are thousands of Al-Anon and Alateen groups in more than 110 countries around the world. We are tied together through a World Service Office (WSO) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, which acts as a clearinghouse for ideas and service. In the U.S. and Canada each group belongs to a geographic district, area and region. Group representatives in an area meet and elect delegates to the annual World Service Conference.
How Much Does it Cost?
There are no dues or fees to join an Al-Anon or Alateen group. Most groups do pass a basket at meetings and we put in what we can afford to contribute on a voluntary basis. We use the money to pay for the rent for a meeting place, to provide Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature for the group, to buy refreshments, and to support our local, area, and world-wide service centers.I
I Want to Find Out More, Now What Do I Do?
We Al-Anon and Alateen members found it helpful to:
Obtain a meeting schedule.
Go to meetings.
Talk to each other before and after meetings.
Exchange telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.
After awhile, you may wish to find sponsor - an Al-Anon member with whom you can identify, who can guide you in using the program to cope with problems.
Read Al-Anon and Alateen books, pamphlets, our monthly magazine, The Forum, and Al-Anon and Alateen newsletters.