Co-Anon – 12 Step Program

What is Co-Anon?

Co-Anon, formerly known as CocAnon, is a 12-step recovery program for family members or friends of individuals who struggle with cocaine addiction or an addiction to any mind-altering substances. Because the program follows the same 12-step format as many other self-help groups, the key to success in the fellowship for members is to work the steps of the program and find a way to improve their way of life, whether or not their loved one is in recovery or not.

Co-Anon provides a safe place for these individuals to share their own messages and stories as well as how they have succeeded in their personal recovery or still need help and guidance. It’s important for members of Co-Anon to share their feelings and how they have been impacted by someone else’s substance abuse. Because Co-Anon maintains the same 12-step format, the group maintains anonymity so that everyone can feel safe and comfortable discussing the issues in their lives.

How does Co-Anon help?

Co-Anon was designed to help those individuals who do not suffer from addiction but can still feel the effects of a loved one’s struggles with addiction. The program was specified for individuals who are dealing with cocaine addicts but it is also readily open for those who have a loved one who struggles with any sort of mind-altering substance addiction.

One of the most important aspects of the program is helping its members understand the disease of addiction and how the process of recovery works, not only for those addicted but for themselves as well. Giving members a place to discuss their own feelings about how they have been impacted by addiction is a huge part of the healing process. The fellowship of Co-Anon provides members with ways to resolve issues they are struggling with and offer solutions to let go of fear and anger. Knowing that there are other individuals who are dealing with the same problems and feelings can make it easier to find solutions together and ways to recover, even if a member’s loved one is still actively using.

Why does Co-Anon work?

Co-Anon works because of the support system members are able to build within the fellowship. Individuals who are close to an addict may not realize that cocaine addiction affects everyone involved; not just the user. For many of the members in Co-Anon, when entering the program, they suffer from feelings of guilt, shame, hurt or fear, which is completely normal. These feelings can be addressed in the 12-step process, which will allow family members and loved ones to begin their own recovery and healing process.

Talking in meetings about experience, strength, and hope allows members to share a common bond with other individuals, which can offer new ways to approach these difficult situations and improve aspects of their lifestyles so they are not suffering in silence. Building a support system with other members in the program is a crucial part of the recovery process because it gives individuals more than one way of finding a solution to some of their problems. From collecting phone numbers to joining members outside of meetings for coffee, these methods will help members learn how the program works and how they can begin their own process of recovery.

What else is there to know about Co-Anon?

Co-Anon works like any other 12-step program as far as the first step goes. “We admitted we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Because of the 12-step process, it is best to try and find a sponsor in the fellowship that can be used as a guide through working the steps. As a newcomer, entering the program can be overwhelming and difficult if you have nowhere else to turn, so a sponsor can help explain the program more and describe what worked for them when they first began attending Co-Anon.

Members attend Co-Anon because a loved one in their life, friend, family member or spouse, has used cocaine or other mind-altering substance and this has caused an interruption in their life in some way, shape or form. Although many members of Co-Anon have not ever used cocaine, drug addiction is a family disease and affects everyone in its line of fire. It doesn’t matter if the addict is still active in their addiction or not; individuals who have dealt with cocaine addicts or other drug addicts need to find a place to improve their own quality of life, instead of allow themselves to live with continuous negative feelings because of their loved one’s drug addiction.

Meetings are available in several countries and many states in the U.S. If newcomers or members of the program are unable to find local meetings or attend face-to-face meetings in their area, a list of Zoom meetings can be found on the official Co-Anon website.  Some other things to remember about the fellowship:

Co-Anon FAQs

How much does Co-Anon cost?

Co-Anon is a free fellowship that is self-supporting and does not accept any outside contributions for the program. Meetings are run by elected officials or volunteers that are members of the fellowship.

Although a basket is passed around meetings to accept contributions from existing members, there is no requirement to put anything in unless you desire to. The only requirement for membership to Co-Anon is that there is a problem with cocaine and all other mind-altering substances in a relative, friend or spouse.

What happens at Co-Anon meetings?

When members gather for a Co-Anon meeting, it provides them a place to share their experiences, strength and hope with other members of the fellowship. Meetings provide individuals with tools for recovery, information on working the twelve steps, discussion of how the disease of addiction has affected their thinking and behavior and more.

For newcomers who aren’t comfortable sharing their stories yet, listening is sometimes recommended so that they can understand how the program works and figure out if they are in the right place or not.

Why does the first step of Co-Anon ask you to admit powerlessness?

Although Co-Anon members are not the ones who are using cocaine or other mind-altering substances, the first step requires members to admit powerlessness over these drugs because they have suffered in some way from them.

Addiction is a disease that can affect everyone in its path. When an addict is actively using, they are still making an impact in the lives of everyone close to them. The individuals close to them can then begin to harbor negative feelings, resentments and negative behaviors, so finding ways to recover from these issues can help members lead healthier and happier lives.

Is Co-Anon a religious program?

Like other 12-step programs, Co-Anon does not require its members to be religious of any sort. The fellowship is a spiritual one and places reliance on its members finding a higher power or a power greater than themselves. Co-Anon allows members to choose whatever spiritual beliefs they want and no specific belief of faith is required. Everyone in the program is welcome to find whatever concept they choose and deem it as a higher power than themselves.

What are the Do’s and Don’ts of the program?


Do forgive yourself.
Do be honest with yourself.
Do be humble.
Do take it easy – tension is harmful.
Do play – find recreation and hobbies.
Do keep trying whenever you fail.
Do learn the facts about addiction and alcoholism.
Do attend Co-Anon meetings often.
Do pray

Don’t be self righteous.
Don’t try to dominate, nag, scold and complain.
Don’t lose your temper.
Don’t try to push anyone but yourself.
Don’t keep bringing up the past.
Don’t keep checking up on your addict/alcoholic.
Don’t wallow in self pity.
Don’t make threats you don’t intend to carry out.
Don’t be overprotective.
Don’t be a doormat.