Al-Anon is an organization based upon the 12 steps that is specifically for the family members and close friends of those who are or were struggling with drug or alcohol dependence. Meetings are available online and locally across the United States and internationally – you can search online to find a meeting wherever you are whenever you need one.
Why Would You Need an Al-Anon Meeting?
Living with and/or loving someone who struggles with alcoholism is emotionally, spiritually and physically taxing. It’s a burden that infects every part of your life as you struggle to maintain at work, remain functional in other relationships, and take care of yourself. Al-Anon meetings surround you with people who have been through a similar experience and had an equally difficult time dealing with the consequences. Those people provide you with support and guidance as you learn how to find balance in your life that prioritizes your needs as well as the needs of others – including your alcoholic loved one.
Meetings also provide you with regular interludes that focus on your continued healing, a place to vent or share, and positive interactions with others.
Al-Anon May Be for You If…
- You are troubled by someone else’s drinking.
- You are the child of an alcoholic.
- Your life has been affected by someone else’s drinking.
- You feel that you need a place to work through some of the issues you have related to someone else’s alcoholism.
Al-Anon Quick Facts
- Everyone is equal at an Al-Anon meeting. No matter how many years one has been attending, they are never in a position to give you unsolicited advice. You have one commonality: you and everyone else in the room has had a problem due to someone else’s drinking.
- There are many different ways to run an Al-Anon meeting and no two meetings will be alike.
- Al-Anon is not a religious program or affiliated with any religious sect. However, there are references to a Higher Power, an entity that you are free to define however you feel most comfortable.
- Anonymity is an important aspect of Al-Anon and all 12-step programs. It gives you and everyone who attends the comfort of knowing that their confidence will be kept.
Do I Have to Go Through the 12 Steps?
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. However, the 12-steps are designed to help you address different issues and past events that resulted from someone else’s drinking and aid you in moving forward emotionally and spiritually.
What Is the Role of a Sponsor?
A sponsor can help you as you begin the process of healing through any 12-step program. In general, a sponsor is someone who has already “worked” the 12 steps, going through each one and applying the principle to their life in order to recover emotionally from the effects of a loved one’s drinking. They can help you if you have questions about how to work the steps, be there to bounce ideas off if you are concerned that you are repeating old patterns, and help you as you prepare to take on “sponsees” of your own.
All sponsors are termed “temporary sponsors.” If at any time you feel uncomfortable with your sponsor, feel more could be gained from your sponsor/sponsee relationship, or would just like to get a new perspective on your Al-Anon experience, you and your sponsor are free to go your separate ways.
What Should You Expect From Your First Al-Anon Meeting?
- You don’t have to be nervous. There are no expectations placed upon you and you are under no obligation to join anything, sign anything, pay anything, or even speak during the meeting.
- You are under no obligation to share. If it’s a meeting where people go around the room and speak, you can simply say, “I pass” or let them know that you are just there to listen.
- You should feel free to ask questions. Wait until the break or after the meeting if you have questions about how the group works or raise your hand during the meeting and let the group know you’re new and interested in learning more about Al-Anon. You will likely be approached after the meeting.
- If you don’t feel comfortable at the first meeting but still feel like you need support, don’t give up. Al-Anon recommends that you attend at least six meetings before you decide.
Would you like to learn more about the 12 steps and how they can aid your mental health treatment program? Contact us today to speak to a counselor. We are standing by at the phone number listed above.