Anonymity in Al-Anon

Welcome to “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Paula, Kevin, and Esse are with us today. All are active Al-Anon members who are willing to talk about one of the basic principles of the Al-Anon program.

How to locate a meeting


  1. Mary Beth S. August 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Anonymity helps me to remember that, in Al-Anon, I am one of many equally important voices. I leave behind my work identity; I am not a professional helper in the rooms of Al-Anon, I am a person who seeks spiritual help and fellowship as well as someone who contributes my experience, strength and hope. Because we are all equals, I am free to listen and learn from anyone who shares. Because we are all equals, I am not responsible for anyone else’s recovery at a meeting. Anonymity relieves me of a hyperdeveloped sense of responsibility for others.

    Anonymity in Al-Anon also protects my spouse, who is a recovering alcoholic in AA. More than once, I have found in my work setting, incredible anger and suspicion toward anyone suspected of being an alcoholic. At work I do not share that I participate in Al-Anon. If anyone at work shows up at an Al-Anon meeting, I share my experience without any details regarding my spouse.

    Anonymity is a simple principle that serves as a powerful reminder that I am not in charge of Al-Anon. Al-Anon has its own Higher Power, and it is not me.

  2. MSC July 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I am using a set of initials, because my first name is a rare one in my town, so I would be known.

    My only point in writing, though, is to thank the lovely ladies who welcomed me so graciously at my first meeting yesterday. I have been taken for a ride financially, but I felt it was all my fault. The topic of the meeting was “Guilt” and was so very appropriate.

    Thank you, ladies, for setting up a chair for me and letting me be in my right place.

  3. josy May 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Anonymity is important to me not only because I can share my story safely, but because who I am outside of these rooms is unimportant. I can share my feelings, thoughts, etc. without judgement. I receive comfort and love. But anonymity is important in other ways. We may be touched by the help of another member and want to express our gratitude in a meeting. That is OK but we do not mention that person by name. That breaks their anonymity. This is a fellowship of equals. No one person embodies Al-Anon’s principles. When we mention that person by name it can cause discord in the group. I need a healthy group or my recovery is in trouble.

  4. Betty March 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Congratulations for this Podcast!! I got on it because I took a 12-Step call to a lady and found out she was blind. Looked at sites for the blind and found nothing, then went back to WSO to ask if they knew what I could find, and I hit on the podcast and tried it!!

    It is great. I called the lady back and walked her through this and she called me the next day and was so thankful. I’m grateful I took the call and could help her. It is her sister who has a problem and was trying to see how she could help her!

    Thanks for all these talks as I am able to connect other members to this.

  5. Nancy October 2010 at 10:17 am

    It’s comforting to realize that as a member of Al-Anon, my confidences will not be repeated to others and my presence at meetings will not be revealed. I can feel safe participating in Al-Anon. These things are important.

    At the same time, I want to remember that in Al-Anon, members are not prevented from using their full names within our groups and among our friends and families, if that’s what we choose. It’s up to each of us. Members have the freedom to use whatever name they want to within the fellowship without criticism from others. We all respect that decision.

    I would hate to think that anyone views Al-Anon as a secret society where members must hide their identity.

  6. Carol September 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I live in a small community and many people know each other through many connections. I too was worried about being recognized and identified. I was also concerned that if I was recognized then the drinker in my life would be labeled as an alcoholic and possibly get into trouble. It took a life threatening crisis to make me feel completely out of control and scared for my own sanity. Finally, I went to my first meeting to save myself.

    There are many folks at meetings who know me from my job or socially but never once have they said anything in public that would indicate our mutual membership in Al-Anon. Neither have they said anything in a meeting to indicate how we know each other in the community. Anonymity works both ways. Because my anonymity has always been protected, I feel safe to share my story.

  7. Judy, NM August 2010 at 12:25 am

    I was so scared to go to my first meeting because I was afraid that my husband would find out I was there or that my attendance would become general knowledge in the community. I was so afraid that I hardly remember anything about that first meeting.

    As I became more familiar with the Al-Anon ways, I noticed a little sign put on the table at our meetings that read, “Whom you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here.” Then I began to notice how many times I had to read the word “anonymity” during our openings of the meetings. I began to understand the tremendous importance of protecting each other’s anonymity so that the meetings are a safe haven, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In a meeting, I can always share what is in my heart.

    In my meetings, we have an agreement that if we see each other in public that it isn’t rude if we don’t greet each other. Sometimes, I don’t know if the Al-Anon member I see in the store is with a qualifier. I wouldn’t want to put that person in the position of having to explain how she knows me.

    If I didn’t have this safety of anonymity, I would have been too scared to stay in Al-Anon. And if I hadn’t stayed, I would have missed the healing and recovery I now enjoy.

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