Everyone knows Alcoholics Anonymous but fewer are aware of Al-Anon, a sister support group intended for the loved ones of those suffering from alcoholism. Al-Anon is a support group designed to help the friends and family members of alcoholics recover and move on, and if you’ve never been, it can be intimidating to go, especially if you don’t know what to expect. If you want to know what happens at Al-Anon meetings or are curious about the group, keep reading.
What Is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon hopes to help people heal from the effects of their loved ones drinking. Alcoholism affects an estimated 17.6 million people in the United States, and while there are 12 step programs like AA, non-12 step programs, as well as a variety of rehabilitation clinics for them, there are very few options for the persons who are affected by their alcoholism. Alcoholics can be unpredictable, aggressive, cajoling, and even dangerous. But no matter what the form an alcohol use disorder takes, it affects the families and friends of the person affected. Al-Anon offers support to those family and friends, to allow them to discuss their issues, support each other, and recover. Attendance is completely voluntary and attendees are completely anonymous, meaning that the attendees and group leaders must maintain your confidentiality.
Types of Al-Anon Meetings
There are many types of Al-Anon meetings, with different themes and different purposes. You should attend a beginner’s meeting to start off.
- Beginners – Topics Focus on Welcoming Newcomers
- Regular – Speaker Topic Meeting
- Open – Both Members and Visitors are Welcome
- Closed – Only Members and Applicants
- Alateen – Teenage or Younger Al-Anon Members
- Al-Anon Adult & Children – Adults with Younger Children. Topics Focus on Family Issues
- LGBT – Topics focus on LGTB Members
- Problem Solving – Topics Focus on Finding Solutions
- Topic – Focused on a Chosen Al-Anon Topic
- Tradition – Focus is on an Al-Anon Tradition
- Literature – Topics focus on Al-Anon Literature
- Slogans – Topics Focus on Al-Anon Slogans
- Meditation – The Meeting Includes a Meditation Break
- Step – Focused on Al-Anon 12 Steps
- Men’s – For Men (All Welcome)
- Women’s – For Women (All Welcome)
- Parent’s – For Parents (All Welcome)
These different types of meetings exist to allow members and visitors to choose the meetings that are most relevant to them.
What Happens at an Al-Anon Meeting?
Most Al-Anon meetings start at a specific time and may extend for an hour or more, or might not have a formal closing time. During the introduction, the group leader will likely read the introduction from Al-Anon literature including the 12 Steps of Al-Anon. The members often sit around a table or in a circle, so that they can see each other. Occasionally, the seats may be arranged in rows. During the introduction, members introduce themselves by their first names. Occasionally, they may be asked to read something. You can choose to participate or not, as there is no obligation, and you can leave at any time.
Most Al-Anon meetings focus on sharing between the group, either on a focused topic, or on topics chosen by the group. Everyone is an equal and there is no set leader despite having a group leader. If you don’t want to participate, you can move on. This makes it easy to share as a group, offer your story to support someone with a similar experience, or simply listen and learn.
Meeting Individuals with Similar Experiences
Alcoholics touch the lives of millions and whether your close family member, partner, or your friend is addicted, there are many people with stories similar to your own. Some are worse, some are better, and many will be relatable, allowing you to share, grieve, and recover with someone who understands what you are going through. A big part of Al-Anon is getting in touch with people you can talk to and whom you can listen to, so that you can help each other.
Touching on Topics
Al-Anon frequently focuses on specific topics to allow participants to share their experiences in the context of the topic. This ensures that everyone gets to talk, and everyone has room to be heard. Topics can vary quite a bit. However, they are typically set before the meeting or chosen by the group as a whole.
You will be asked to listen to others sharing their story and to give them support. Just being heard can be therapeutic, as can listening to someone with issues like your own. Everyone deals with things in different ways. Listening can also give you a broader scope of how alcoholism affects your loved one.
Sharing Your Story
While you don’t have to share anything, the group is there to listen to you and to support you when you choose to do so.
You may be asked to read a book, study, read from pamphlets, or do research so that you better understand issues and problems. Finding solutions is a large part of Al-Anon and you should expect to be given material and information to read and learn. Al-Anon is a support group and its meetings are often different from each other. For this reason, the group officially asks prospective members to attend at least 6 meetings before making a decision. If your loved one is an alcoholic, an Al-Anon meeting may be the right place for you to heal.
Contact Oceanfront Recovery for Addiction Help Today
We offer a number of programs to help you or you loved one overcome an alcohol addiction. Some of these programs include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- EMDR Therapy Program
- Family Therapy Program
- Dialectical Therapy Program
If you are concerned about a loved one who may need treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction, please contact Oceanfront Recovery today to discuss detox and treatment options. One of our professional and compassionate intake advisors will speak with you at 877.279.1777 today.