How Al-Anon Meetings Benefit Family of Addicts
Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that helps alcoholics overcome their addictions through community but what happens to the families and friends of alcoholics. People call alcoholism a family disease. It has a negative impact on almost everyone who is close to the alcoholic. Fortunately, an organization helps the families and friends of alcoholics. This organization is called Al-Anon.
What is Al-Anon?
According to the Al-Anon Organization, Al-Anon is a group of families and friends of alcoholics helping each other cope with their loved ones addiction. This group is very similar to any 12 step program but with a few exceptions. These exceptions are:
- it is for families and friends of alcoholics, not the alcoholics themselves,
- it focuses on the stresses of dealing with an alcoholic rather than dealing with alcoholism in yourself, and
- their principles are slightly different to reflect the nature of the group.
Al-Anon members believe in sharing their experiences to help end the hopelessness, isolation, and difficulty of dealing with someone who is an alcoholic. They welcome and comfort the families and friends of alcoholic and give encouragement to the alcoholics themselves.
One of the main purposes of the group is to help those family members and friends living with an alcoholic accept the alcoholic and lead happy lives whether the alcoholic stops drinking or not.
What Happens in Al-Anon Meetings?
Al-Anon meetings are structured similarly to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. They usually start on time and last around an hour. The chairperson opens the meeting with the serenity prayer and the 12 steps. They also welcome new members and newly returned members. The serenity prayer is one of the very few religious aspects of Al-Anon and may be interpreted in a few ways. Some people use it as more of a mantra than an actual prayer.
Then there is a discussion and sharing. People share their stories and their problems in a respectful manner. Some meetings are simply sharing meetings while others discuss the 12 steps or other aspects of Alcoholism.
At the end of the meeting, they say the Lord’s Prayer and close the meeting with announcements. After the meeting, many people stay around to talk and socialize but the meetings normally end on time.
The Benefit of the 12 Steps
The 12 steps are a key benefit to Al-Anon. They serve as a guideline to how to break the cycle that loving an alcoholic can create. The basics behind the 12 steps are:
- Admit that you are a powerless to stop the alcoholic,
- Know that there is a higher power that can help,
- Turn yourself over to the higher power,
- Inventory yourself,
- Admit to yourself, the higher power, and someone else what you did wrong,
- Plan on changing yourself, not others,
- Ask the higher power to help you change,
- Be willing to change,
- Make amends to those who you have wronged except when it hurts them to do so,
- Keep looking inward and making changes as needed,
- Pray and meditate to seek a better understanding of the disease, yourself, and how you can be better.
- Help others along the path to recovery and the principles of Al-Alon.
Each of these 12 steps benefits you as you complete them. They show you how to change for the better and how to deal with the alcoholic.
The Benefits of Al-Anon Meetings
There are many benefits to Al-Anon meetings. As with Alcoholics Anonymous, the purpose of the group is to share and help each other. The benefits that are specific to this organization are:
- helps those with low self- esteem – many family members of alcoholics have low-self esteem. Alcoholics have the ability to be extremely abusive when they are drunk. The bonds formed in Al-Anon help to build self-esteem and end the self-esteem issues associated with the abuse.
- self improvement – Al-Anon focuses on helping the friends and family of alcoholics improve themselves. They do this through sharing and self improvement concepts and exercises.
- helps those that feel guilty – It lifts some of the blame as it promotes the idea that the family and friends of the alcoholic are not responsible for the alcoholism. They need to take responsibility for themselves and not for the alcoholic or the alcohol abuse.
- helps in understanding – it helps people understand that the problem does not lie with them and that the only person you can change is you.
- teaches people to set boundaries – learning to set boundaries is one of the hardest things that a friend or family member can do when their loved one is suffering.
- gives them a support network – Al-Anon is based off people helping people. They establish a support network through the group. This support network is available in times of need and weakness.
- teaches people about alcoholism – it shows friends and family that alcoholism is a disease not a choice.
- helps them to forgive and let go – letting of past wrongs and forgiving the alcoholic for being what they are is an extremely important way to move on with life.
These are not the only benefits of Al-Anon. There are many more including showing people that they are not alone in their struggles against alcohol and alcoholism.
Al-Anon is a worldwide organization that can help you if you are struggling with someone who is an alcoholic. It teaches tolerance and self responsibility instead of blame and intervention. For more information about Al-Anon call us at 800-895-1695. We are happy to answer any of your questions about Al-Anon and Al-Anon meetings.