What is Al-Anon and Alateen?
Al-Anon/Alateen is a 12-step program that was created to help individuals cope with family alcoholism. Whether it is for their friends or family, these fellowships are a place for those who may not suffer from a drinking problem but want to find answers because they are friends with or family members of someone who does. Like other 12-step programs, the fellowships of Al-Anon and Alateen provide 12 steps and 12 traditions for both groups, while following the same 12-step program format.
When Al-Anon and Alateen Began
Al-Anon began in 1951 and was started by Lois W., wife of Bill W., and Anne B., wife of Dr. Bob. Bill and Dr. Bob were the founders of the 12-step program Alcoholics Anonymous. These women and many other wives of the original Alcoholics Anonymous groups began meeting while their husbands met for meetings and started discussing some of their own experiences together, finding that discussing with one another helped them as much as the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings helped their husbands.
They met independently for many years before finally deciding that an official program should be formed for the group, and after asking for the approval of the group name from Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon was born. Shortly after Al-Anon was made official, in 1957, Alateen was formed. The group came about when several teenagers began attending meetings because they too had experience with family alcoholism and were looking for others in a similar situation.
Who Al-Anon and Alateen is For
Because alcoholism is a family disease, the program is open to anyone who is suffering in silence because of an alcoholic in their life. Whether it is a family member, friend or spouse, Al-Anon offers a place for these individuals to meet and share their stories. Alateen is for children or young adults who also share these experiences and have dealt with family alcoholism, but it allows them to meet with people in their age group so that they can share stories as well.
When dealing with an alcoholic, individuals tend to do many things to try and control the drinking, as well as place blame, guilt and shame on themselves. Although not alcoholics themselves, members of Al-Anon and Alateen suffer and can sometimes get involved in the same behaviors as the alcoholic. These programs are in place to help members find happiness and solutions to some of their problems.
The relationship to the alcoholic is not what’s important in these meetings. The only requirement for membership to an Al-Anon or Alateen group is that there is a problem with a friend or family member’s drinking, as stated in their third tradition. Because there are no dues or membership fees for members of both Al-Anon and Alateen, everyone is welcome.
How Al-Anon and Alateen Works
Dealing with an alcoholic who is active in their addiction can be hard for anybody, but for members of Al-Anon and Alateen, it is affecting their lives significantly. Both programs work for their members because they each focus on learning to find happiness, even if the alcoholic they are dealing with doesn’t think they have a problem or knows they have a problem but are still drinking. Meetings allow members to share how they are feeling, how they have been affected and even what continues to frustrate them while living or dealing with an alcoholic.
The fellowship also provides individuals, especially newcomers, with the understanding of the illness of alcohol addiction. Instead of trying to change the alcoholic, Al-Anon and Alateen focus on the individual improving their own quality of life and how they can play a more positive role in the life of the alcoholic. Some research has even shown that alcoholics in recovery may be more successful if their family members or friends are in programs like Al-Anon or Alateen.
Handling the disease of alcoholism can be painful and difficult for those affected, but it is possible to live a better life by working the 12 steps of the program and building a support system with similar individuals. The 12 steps of both programs are the same as Alcoholics Anonymous except for the twelfth step.
Why Al-Anon and Alateen is Effective
Al-Anon and Alateen are effective for many members of the fellowships because it gives individuals a place to share their feelings and discuss their experiences with alcoholism to others who have been there or may understand. For some of these members, discussing these problems with people who can’t relate was a problem and keeping it a secret was only harmful to themselves. Finding a place to meet with others who share similar stories provides members the assurance that they are not alone and there is hope for the family member or friend of an alcoholic.
While every situation may be individual to each member, they are all similar in the fact that someone else’s drinking was creating a problem in their lives and making their lives unmanageable. Whether or not they are dealing with an alcoholic who knows he or she has a problem, the fellowship focuses on ways to improve their quality of life and tries to offer solutions to help them live happily and healthily. Sharing personal stories of experiences and strengths can give other members hope and show them that the program does work.
12 steps of Al-Anon/Alateen
1.We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.-al-anon.org
12 Traditions of Al-Anon/Alateen
1. Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.
2. For our group purpose there is but one authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern.
3. The relatives of alcoholics, when gathered together for mutual aid, may call themselves an Al-Anon Family Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.
4. Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Al-Anon or AA as a whole.
5. Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.
6. Our Family Groups ought never endorse, finance or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim. Although a separate entity, we should always co-operate with Alcoholics Anonymous.
7. Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Al-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. Our groups, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. The Al-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues; hence our name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and TV. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all AA members.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.-al-anon.org