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At the Cove Center for Recovery, we realize many of our clients are already familiar about Al-Anon, but for others that are new to the world of alcohol abuse treatment this blog may serve you well. The same applies to Inspirations for Youth and Families Teen Rehab about Alateen. Here is a primer on what Al-Anon actually is and how it can help you.

Al‑Anon is a national organization where friends and family members of problem drinkers share their experiences and learn how to apply the principles of the Al‑Anon program to their individual situations. It is an adult organization and has a separate group for younger family members and friends called Alateen.

The people who attend Al-Anon learn that they are not alone in the problems they face, and that they have choices that lead to greater peace of mind, whether the drinker continues to drink or not.

Perhaps Al-Anon greatest claim to fame are its three legacies: The Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, and the Twelve Concepts of Service. The spiritual principles of the Al-Anon program are derived from these Legacies.

Here are some basic questions and answers that you may have about Al-Anon.

Do I have to say anything at the Al-Anon meeting?

It is your choice whether to speak or not. At Al-Anon, you are invited to listen and learn. Members are available to answer questions before and after the meetings.

What is the level of confidentiality?

One of the Al-Anon basic principals is anonymity. Meetings are completely confidential.

What is the role of religion at Al-Anon meeting?

Al-Anon avoids religious discussion and members of all faiths, or no faith, are welcome to attend the meetings.

Why doesn’t everyone in need go to Al-Anon?

People take on the problems of the one who has the disease. Even if the person goes into treatment, the family member might still suffer. That’s why many people “in need” will not attend an Al-Anon meeting, because they are too wrapped up in the problems of the person with the disease.

What makes Al-Anon so special?

Perhaps it is the sum of all its parts. Family members may struggle for years before ever seeking help and the members understand that it’s easier for family members to continue coping with the disease than it is to embrace a solution. It’s natural to feel this anxiety, because even though a person has searched for answers, they may have given up on finding them. The members support each other. People seeking information can just go and gather, without concern about being a member. The members understand. But you may be surprised to know that there are no dues or membership fees. Everything is supported by contributions, free and voluntary. No pressure. Just go and see what’s going on.

How do I know if I should go to Al-Anon?

  • Do you worry about how much someone drinks?
  • Do you have money problems because of someones drinking?
  • Do you tell lies to cover up for someones drinking?
  • Do you feel if the drinker loved you, he or she would stop drinking to please you?
  • Do you blame the drinker’s behavior on his or her companions?
  • Are plans frequently upset or canceled or meals delayed because of the drinker?
  • Do you make threats, such as, “If you don’t stop drinking, I’ll leave you?”
  • Do you secretly try to smell the drinker’s breath?
  • Are you afraid to upset someone for fear it will set off a drinking bout?
  • Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker’s behavior?
  • Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?
  • Have you considered calling the police for help in fear of abuse?
  • Do you search for hidden alcohol?
  • Do you often ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking?
  • Have you refused social invitations out of fear or anxiety?
  • Do you sometimes feel like a failure when you think of the lengths you have gone to control the drinker?
  • Do you think that if the drinker stopped drinking, your other problems would be solved?
  • Do you ever threaten to hurt yourself to scare the drinker?
  • Do you feel angry, confused or depressed most of the time?
  • Do you feel there is no one who understands your problems?

Alcoholism is a family disease. If you answered yes to some of these questions, you may want to check meeting information in your area.

How can I find a meeting?

Al-Anon meetings may be listed in the white pages of your local telephone directory. Cities with local information services are listed on their Web site www.al-anon-alateen.org. You can also call for meeting information at 1-888-4AL-ANON or  (1-888-425-2666) Mon-Fri 8am-6pm ET