AL-ANON FAMILY GROUPS RECOGNIZE
THE VITAL ROLE OF MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS
Counselors, therapists, social workers, among others are likely to be among the first to diagnose a mental health disorder in relatives and friends of alcoholics seeking help for depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other stress-related symptoms. Often, clients, consumers and patients do not realize that their relationship to an alcoholic could be a factor in their problems. Misuse of alcohol can also affect the drinker’s family and friends physically, mentally and emotionally.
Al-Anon Family Groups’ World Service Office conducts a membership survey every three years. Members have indicated that their participation in Al-Anon/Alateen programs have positively affected their lives. As family members recover from the effects of the family disease of alcoholism, it may aid the recovery process for the entire family.
Currently the 2021 Membership Survey results are available.
Alcoholism is as harmful to the family’s well‑being as any drug addiction
Although opioid and other drug addictions receive more attention than alcohol addiction, all have serious consequences on the family. Addiction professionals familiar with the effects that alcoholism and addiction have on families share why alcoholism is just as detrimental to families as other addictions and how children are specifically affected.
Al‑Anon cooperates with therapists, counselors, and other professionals, but does not endorse, oppose, or affiliate with any professional, organization, or entity. The opinions expressed here were strictly those of the person who gave them. Their comments reflect their professional expertise and use of Al‑Anon as a resource for their clients and patients who are or have been affected by an individual’s addiction to alcohol.
Frequently Asked Questions by Professionals
Yes. Al-Anon/Alateen is a peer support group. As peers, they exchange their respective experiences. The mutual sharing among members helps members to realize that they have a variety of options that they may not have realized they had before attending Al-Anon or Alateen. Al-Anon members do not give direction or prescribe specific solutions for other members.
Most Al-Anon and Alateen groups have a discussion topic at their meetings such as acceptance, overcoming fear, change, one of Al-Anon’s slogans (e.g. One Day at a Time, Easy Does It) or one of the Twelve Steps. Al-Anon and Alateen meetings are facilitated by members, rather than a professional. Each week, a different member chairs the meeting on a different subject.
Adult and teenagers attending Al-Anon or Alateen meetings respectively are relieved to find that they are not alone. Even if uncertain that a relative or friend’s drinking is causing them stress and despair, people attending Al-Anon or Alateen meetings will acquire information about alcoholism or alcohol abuse as an illness and its impact on the nondrinker. They will also learn about the importance of family treatment and recovery whether the alcoholic or problem drinker continues to drink or not. They will usually be able to identify with and meet others who have had similar experiences and hear first-hand how members are utilizing the Al-Anon/Alateen program for hope, support, and to improve their lives.
Al-Anon Family Groups is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. We avoid discussion of specific religious doctrine, and members of all faiths (or of none) are welcome. Our Twelve Steps ask us to find a “Power greater than ourselves” who can help us solve our problems and find serenity. Each member is free to define that power in his or her own way.
No advance notification or formal written referral is necessary to attend an Al-Anon or Alateen meeting. Most Al-Anon groups have a contact who can be called for information about the group, our program in general, or for directions to a meeting. Many Alateen groups meet at the same time and location as an Al-Anon group. Alateen meetings are open only to teenagers. (Note: Some Alateen meetings also welcome pre-teen aged children)
There are no dues or fees in Al-Anon and Alateen meetings. Most groups pass a basket for voluntary contributions. Members are asked to contribute what they can afford, so that the group can pay rent, provide literature, and offer support to local and worldwide service centers.
How do the Al-Anon Family Groups and the Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. support themselves?
Through the sale of Al-Anon/Alateen literature and voluntary contributions from members, Al-Anon groups, and service arms. The Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. and the Al-Anon Family Groups do not accept grants or funding from outside sources.
It is helpful to make your patient, client, consumer, or student aware of Al-Anon or Alateen and our purpose. Many people have never heard of Al-Anon or Alateen.
Although Al-Anon and Alateen groups follow the same meeting format, each group’s meetings are slightly different from each other because attendees and topics of discussion vary each week.
Al-Anon is a program of self-discovery and personal growth. Recovery is an on-going process and is not limited to whether or not the alcoholic or problem drinker continues to drink, is visibility present, or actively involved in a member’s life. The effects of someone else’s drinking are deep and may present challenges that continue throughout life.
Members form new friendships with other members and often can find great personal satisfaction in maintaining their relationships with their Al-Anon friends. Al-Anon and Alateen members also reinforce their own recovery and find great satisfaction is sharing their application of the Al-Anon program with newcomers.
In addition to alcohol abuse, newcomers as well as Al-Anon members may be worried about a relative or friend who has another type of addiction, mental illness, compulsive or problematic behavior. While Al-Anon’s principles are applicable to many different situations and concerns, the Al-Anon program focuses on helping members recover from the effects of someone else’s drinking. Newcomers as well as Al-Anon/Alateen members are also encouraged to seek help from other resources for concerns in addition to or other than someone else’s drinking when needed.
Al-Anon is a mutual support group program for family members and friends to learn the facts about alcoholism as a “family illness” and how they can recover from the effects of someone else’s drinking. When clients are concerned about someone’s alcoholism and drug addiction, they are welcome to attend Al-Anon with the understanding that our program focuses on alcoholism. Al-Anon groups designated as having “open” meetings welcome anyone interested in learning about our program regardless of their concerns.
Al-Anon’s 2015 Membership Survey reported that 40 percent of the Al-Anon members first came to Al-Anon because of a friend or relative’s drug problem. The survey also showed that 85 percent of these members eventually came to realize that someone’s drinking has also negatively affected their lives.
A Professional Feels Challenged
Tradition Eight: Al‑Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers. One of my best friends committed suicide. As a psychologist by profession, I carried a lot of guilt for not being able to prevent it. The loss hit me hard, but it was not like me to ask for help. I realized that my independence and professional training made it a challenge to open up to others. I was the one who was in control, knew the answers, and helped others. I did not want to be the one opening
CAGE Test Helps Professionals Identify Need for Al-Anon
"In health care settings, there are many people who could potentially benefit from Al‑Anon, but their need is never identified. Health care providers often struggle to find time to screen for patients who have been affected by someone else’s drinking, which conservative estimates show to be at least 20 percent of the population..."
Need more information?
If you would like to be contacted by a local member for more information, or obtain free literature, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about opening an Al-Anon or Alateen group, please email email@example.com.