Saturday, September 26, 2009

Al Anon Family Groups

Al Anon and Alateen are jointly known as the Al Anon Family Groups. They are self help groups open to any one who has been affected by a person or persons suffering from alcoholism. In 1951 Al Anon was formed by Lois, the wife of Alcoholic's Anonymous co founder, Bill Wilson.

In Lois's Story, explained why, as the spouse of an alcoholic, she also required treatment.

After a while I began to wonder why I was not as happy as I ought to be, since the one thing I had been yearning for all my married life [Bill's sobriety] had come to pass. Then one Sunday, Bill asked me if I was ready to go to the meeting with him. To my own astonishment as well as his, I burst forth with "Damn your old meetings!" and threw a shoe as hard as I could.

This surprising display of temper over nothing pulled me up short and made me start to analyze my own attitudes. ... My life's purpose of sobering up Bill, which had made me feel desperately needed, had vanished. ... I decided to strive for my own spiritual growth. I used the same principles as he did to learn how to change my attitudes. ... We began to learn that ... the partner of the alcoholic also needed to live by a spiritual program.

Lois Wilson , Lois's Story in How Al-Anon Works[3]

AL Anon meetings can be found internationally. They are listed in the phone books or a meeting can be found through their on line site,
The standard meeting of Al Anon is to break up into smaller groups so that each individual who wants to has a chance to share. In these small groups individuals share their 'experience, strength, and hope ' regarding their exposure to individuals suffering the disease of alcoholism. It's recognised that often new comers arrive with low self esteem because they have had unrealistic expectations of 'control' over the drinking behaviour of others and have demanded 'perfection' often from themselves.
These are words from the latest Al Anon publication regarding relationships:“At meetings we find people who have discovered that happiness is a choice they can make at any moment. Contentment is no longer seen as an accidental mood created when someone else does what we want. We see people who are able to find peace and serenity even when the outward circumstances of their lives are chaotic. We’re able to listen to them share, and we find that their experience of living with an alcoholic has much in common with ours. As we hear about the relationships in their lives—healthy or unhealthy—we come to understand that everyone in Al-Anon is on a similar path. Peace of mind and healthy relationships are possible for all of us.”

From Discovering Choices
(B-30), page 24-25

There are several books which are recommended readings for those who come to Al Anon. The basic text of Al Anon is "How Al Anon Works"

ow Al-Anon Works for Families&Friends of Alcoholics (B-22)Price: $ 13.50
Al-Anon's basic book

Public Outreach

Product Description
Al-Anon's basic book discusses our mutual-help program of recovery, including personal stories. A beginning approach to the Twelve Concepts of Service is included. Indexed. 416 pages.
Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions and Concepts by Al-Anon Family Group Head Inc
Paths to Recovery, Al Anon's Steps, Traditions and Concepts discusses these three Legacies for spiritual growth and change. The 12 steps were adapted from the 12 steps of AA however whereas the AA steps first refer to Alcohol before moving onto relationships with others and God, the Al Anon steps begin immediately with relationships. In the self study questions to Step one (We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable) there are these telling questions - Do I accept that I cannot control another person's drinking? Another person's behaviour? Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker? Have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences? What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met? In what situations do I fee excessive responsibility for other people? How have I sought approval and affirmation from others? Do I say 'yes' when I want to say 'no". Do I take care of others easily but find it difficult to care for myself? How do I feel when I'm alone? Am I attracted to alcoholics another people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them?
"The 12 traditions show us how to build healthy relationships within our groups, among our friends, and in our families."
"The Concepts help us to extend all that we learn to the world at large - our families, jobs, organizations and communities."
Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II
Courage to Change is a small daily reflection book which many Al Anon's read daily to start their day on a spiritual note. It's also used at meetings as a stepping stone to discussions.
Today's reading, September 26 goes on to say "When I first came to Al-Anon, I thought that anger, resentment, jealousy and fear were 'bad' feelngs. The program has helped me to learn that feelings are neither good nor bad - they are simply a part of who I am. I have come to realize that good has sometimes come as a result of those feelings. Anger has prompted some constructive changes in my life. Resentment has made me so uncomfortable that I've had to learn to combat it - as a result, I have learned to pray for other people. Jealousy has taught me to keep my mouth shut when I know that I will say only irrational destructive things. And fear has been perhaps my greatest gift, because it forces me to make conscious contact with a higher power........"
"With a change of attitude, I have choices about what to do with
When I first went to Al Anon over 12 years ago I found that I was the only man in the meetings I first attended and didn't feel particularly good about this. Since then I have found more and more men attending Al Anon meetings. Locally there's is also a men's Al Anon meeting on the Vancouver north shore which has been running weekly for some 20 years. In the Al Anon meetings I've attended in the last couple of years I have always found other men who have been married to alcoholics or addicts or have family members who suffer the disease of alcoholism. No doubt there are still meetings where there are only women but the trend seems to be to more mixed meetings. Al Ateen has always tended to more male and female participation. This is the site for information about meetings in the British Columbia and Yukon region.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."


allan rufus said...

Hello friend.
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Many blessings and great love, light and peace to you.
Allan Rufus from

haykind said...

Allan, you appear to be marketting your products via this blog. Interesting technique. Those who come to read about Al Anon in turn check the comments section but rather than read some comment about Al Anon or anything specific to this site get re directed to your 'promotion'. Al Anon is a program of 'attraction'. Nonetheless you have an interesting site though I'm left wondering if you actually read this blog. Or any of the Al Anon literature. Not that you had to, of course Just a thought though. Bill