About Al-Anon and Alateen
When you don’t know where to turn because someone drinks too much…There is a better way.
Are the twists and turns of living with the uncertainty of alcoholism becoming too difficult to navigate on your own? You’ve tried to map out solutions but nothing seems to go as planned. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up. There is hope.
You may feel like you are at a turning point in your life. Like you, many Al-Anon members reached a crossroads in their lives. At Al-Anon meetings you will meet people who have been where you are now and have found a new and better way of living by incorporating the principles of Al-Anon in all aspects of their lives.
What Happens at a Meeting?
Al-Anon’s invitation to you: The thought of walking through the door of your first Al-Anon meeting can be very unnerving. Knowing what to expect may help calm that anxiety. Here are some of the questions most commonly asked by newcomers:
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Do I have to say anything at a meeting?
Most meetings ask if there are any newcomers present. You can respond by saying only your first name, or you can choose not to say anything. That’s perfectly fine. There is no obligation to speak at an Al-Anon meeting. It’s ok just to listen.
Do I have to make an appointment in order to attend?
No appointment is necessary. Meetings usually start and end at their designated time, but many members arrive 10 minutes early to chat or help set up the room and stay after the meeting to talk and answer any questions a newcomer might have.
Do I need to bring money to a meeting?
Not necessarily. However, there is usually Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature available for purchase at meetings. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions. Most meetings pass a basket during the meeting so members can contribute. Contributing is always voluntary.
What if I see someone I know at the meeting?
It’s possible that you could see someone from your work, church, or other part of your life at the meeting. If you do, remember that everyone comes to Al-Anon meetings for the same reason-they are seeking recovery from the effects of someone else’s drinking. The Al-Anon program principle of anonymity assures that who is at the meeting, and what is said there, is not shared with anyone outside of the meeting, even family members.
Should I attend several different meetings?
Newcomers to Al-Anon are encouraged to try at least six different meetings before they decide if Al-Anon is right for them. Each meeting has its own style and personality. It’s important to find somewhere that you feel comfortable. There may be several groups that meet regularly in your community or close by. Also, it can be helpful to attend more than one meeting a week, especially when new to Al-Anon.
Al-Anon Family Groups were created in the 1950’s because family members came to realize that they, too, were affected by the disease of alcoholism. Whether the loved one is still actively drinking or not, Al-Anon and Alateen Family Groups can help individuals recognize and heal from the effects of another person’s drinking.
Al-Anon is a mutual support program for people who are living with–or have lived with–someone whose drinking created problems for themselves or others. Alateen is Al-Anon’s recovery program for young people, teenagers up to age 19, who are living with or affected by the problem drinking of another person. In Alateen, as in Al-Anon, members share their experience, strength, and hope with each other. Every Alateen group has an active, adult member of Al-Anon to serve as the Alateen Group Sponsor.
Al-Anon Family Groups have one focus: to help friends and families of alcoholics. However, Al‑Anon’s 2021 Membership Survey reported that 28% of Al‑Anon members first came to Al‑Anon because of a relative or friend’s drug problem.
There are no dues or fees for membership and no appointment is required. Al-Anon is fully self-supporting through voluntary contributions and is not funded or affiliated with any outside organization. Although meetings frequently are held in churches, Al-Anon includes people of different religious affiliations, as well as individuals without any spiritual beliefs.
Al-Anon has but one purpose: To help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic. Members meet to discuss their common problems, exchange experiences, and encourage one another. They help each other learn effective ways to cope with problems. They help each other understand the principles of the Al-Anon program and learn how to use the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions.
The stress of dealing with someone’s drinking is too much for most teens. Whether it’s with a mother or father, brother or sister, or a friend, it can feel like life is getting out of control. But at an Alateen meeting, you can find the support and understanding of other teenagers who are dealing with some of the same problems you are.
Alateen is a part of Al-Anon Family Groups. It’s a fellowship of teenage Al-Anon members whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Alateen groups are sponsored by adult Al-Anon members who help the group stay on track but allow the teens to run the meeting.
Alateens come together to:
- Share experience, strength and hope with each other to find effective ways to cope with problems.
- Discuss their difficulties and encourage one another.
- Help each other understand the principles of the Al-Anon program through the use of the Twelve Steps and Alateen’s Twelve Traditions.
Alateen members learn:
- Compulsive drinking is a disease.
- They can detach themselves emotionally from the drinker’s problems while continuing to love the person.
- They are not the cause of anyone else’s drinking or behavior.
- They cannot change or control anyone but themselves.
- They have spiritual and intellectual resources with which to develop their own potential, no matter what happens at home.
- They can build satisfying and rewarding life experiences for themselves.
Alateen Talk is a magazine written by and for members of Alateen. Their sharings relate to their personal lives, how their Alateen group is functioning, and ways in which to carry the Alateen message to other teenagers.
To learn more about Alateen, visit the Teen Corner.