Al-Anon – is it the best way for my family to deal with addiction?
What is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon is a twelve-step recovery program. It is a fellowship support group for anyone who has a loved one amid alcoholism or drug addiction.
Al-Anon is not the AA.
The Alcoholics Anonymous group is to help the addict recover.
Al-Anon Family Groups is focused on the friends and family of the addict. These groups offer hope, strength and a haven for those who were thrown into one of the worst ordeals of their lives. A spin-off program, Alateen, helps teens and younger adults to cope.
If you are in any way affected by addiction, you will be welcomed into an Al-Anon group meeting. Your loved one need not even be in treatment yet.
Why a group?
The creators of these groups believed that there is strength in numbers. In connecting with others with the same problem, the burden will be somewhat lighter. Addiction is a family disease. Everyone is affected.
In groups of five to twenty-five, the members can give hope and offer love to others in similar circumstances. They are given tools and knowledge to understand better what they are dealing with.
Al-Anon meetings are not affiliated with any religious group.
What can I expect from a meeting?
Each group is different. Usually, though, the bulk of every meeting is about sharing practical stories and offering strength and hope to each other.
Everyone is considered equal, and any member can share and offer advice.
You don’t have to jump in and tell your whole story the first time you attend. Some people prefer to sit back and listen to others for a few meetings until they feel comfortable.
A topic for the meeting
In most meetings, a topic is discussed that are relevant to everyone.
For instance, members can be encouraged to talk about how they can accept alcoholism as a disease. How should you handle your loved one returning to the same habit day after day?
The topic can be how to deal with anger, or with change, or how to let go of your control issues.
Is Al-Anon right for my family and me?
Let’s not beat around the bush. Al-Anon has been helpful to thousands of people, but it may not be for everyone. Let’s look at a few positive and negative aspects:
It worked for me
- Al-Anon is a safe forum where addiction hardships can be shared with others in the same boat.
- The approach is neutral and non-judgmental.
- Meetings are often held in churches. It is comforting.
- Al-Anon encourages daily readings from their great literature. Booklets such as ‘One day at a time' and ‘The courage to change’ can be a lifeline at the right moment.
- There is hope in the progress of others.
- Paradoxically, by sharing your failures and successes with others, you are also healing and recovering.
- Al-Anon acknowledges a Higher Power at work in everyone’s lives. Without Him, recovery is not possible. It is comforting for many people.
- There are no membership fees, and the groups operate on donations.
Al-Anon is not for me
- Some people don’t like to air their ‘dirty laundry’ in public.
- Some people are in denial and believe that their loved one is not as bad as some others.
- It is hard to realize that something must change. For some, it is easier to choose the path of least resistance – and do nothing.
- Some members of Al-Anon can come across as too serious and act as a turn-off to others.
- Some members may talk too much and drone on about problems that are of no relevance to the others.
- For Al-Anon to work for you, you have to give yourself the gift of time. You must frequently attend meetings and work with a sponsor to see progress. Some people are not interested in investing so much time.
- Some feel that too much emphasis is put on a Higher Power.
We at Largest Heart believe that love and hope will conquer all. The first step is to find a place where there is an abundance of this and tap into it.
You will never know what Al-Anon can do for you until you give it a try! To share in the trials and tribulations of others helps you to feel not so alone.
Help us to support Al-Anon and other family support groups by donating today!