Alcoholism affects many people, not just the people who are doing the actual drinking. In fact, family members and friends of heavy drinkers may suffer greatly from the effects of alcohol.
Al-Anon and Alateen groups recognize the suffering of loved ones. The groups teach people about alcoholism and help them understand that they need and deserve help as well.
What Are Al-Anon and Alateen?
Al-Anon and Alateen are organizations that aim to help relatives, friends, coworkers, and others affected by the drinking of people they know. Al-Anon meetings are open to everyone, while Alateen meetings are for teenagers (and occasionally preteens). Collectively, the meetings are known as Al-Anon Family Groups (AFG).
Both groups are related to organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other groups that help people who have struggled with addictions to alcohol or drugs or with compulsive behaviors.
Al-Anon, Alateen, and AA, in common with other addiction-related groups:
- Encourage members to meet with each other to provide support.
- Ask their members to work through a series of 12 steps to acknowledge their problems with alcohol, drugs, or behaviors; admit their mistakes; and make efforts to change.
- Use 12 traditions to guide individuals and the organization.
- Allow new members to ask veteran members to serve as sponsors to provide more personalized support.
- Respect the anonymity of their members.
- Publish literature that informs people about addiction and addiction-related issues.
- Operate under the guidelines of the World Service Conference to manage the organizations and provide access for their members.
- Offer their services for free, although they accept donations.
Do Al-Anon and Alateen Have Meetings?
Yes. Like AA, Al-Anon and Alateen emphasize meetings. And like other addiction-related organizations, Al-Anon and Alateen offer meetings across the United States and around the world.
In these meetings, members can gather to learn more about addiction and provide mutual support. People can share their problems and triumphs and can see that they’re not alone, that others are experiencing the same things.
For people who want to meet face-to-face, Al-Anon and Alateen offer in-person meetings. The organizations include information on where to find such gatherings on the Al-Anon Family Groups online site.
The site also includes information about what to expect when people attend meetings and answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Some people may prefer virtual meetings instead of face-to-face ones. They may not be able to travel to attend in-person meetings or may not have any gatherings in their geographic area.
Developments such as COVID-19 may have also closed facilities that host meetings or have made people wary of gathering in groups.
For those reasons and others, Al-Anon and Alateen support a wide variety of platforms that allow people to gather and communicate without having to leave their homes. Members of these groups can contact each other and express their thoughts by using:
- Phone calls
- The internet (chats, email messages, bulletin boards, blogs)
- Social media (Twitter, Facebook)
- Instant messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Skype, Discord)
- Conferencing apps (WebEx, Zoom)
People who start groups are encouraged to register on the founding organization websites. These sites provide resources about starting new groups as well as other resources about the groups, addiction, and dealing with the addiction of others.
How Can People Learn More About Al-Anon and Alateen?
In addition to providing literature for group members, Alateen and Al-Anon provide resources for professionals who work with addiction. To make the literature more accessible to more people, these resources are in English, Spanish, and French.
For people who prefer to learn by listening, the Al-Anon Family Groups site also posts podcasts that serve as introductions to their meetings. The organizations also publish articles and blog posts where people relate their experiences firsthand.
Knowledge is power. Al-Anon and Alateen work to provide their members with knowledge so they can be more powerful and so they can fight the effects of addiction.
al-anon.org - Al-Anon Meetings
al-anon.org - New Al-Anon Group Registration