Al-Anon: Who Are They and What Do They Do

Many people have heard of the organization called Al-Anon, but there are still a lot of people who don’t really understand what this group is and how they can help.

Al-Anon has been around for more than 50 years and it also includes a smaller, sub-group called Al-a-teen.  Al-a-teen is a group that is focused on younger members.

The basis for the group is the belief that alcoholism is a “family disease”.  It doesn’t just affect the alcoholics themselves, it effects their entire family in one way or another.  Studies have shown that each alcoholic has a dramatic impact on the lives of at least 4 other people.  Al-anon is a group that is focused on helping those other people.

In many ways, an alcoholic is holding their family members hostage because everything becomes about them.  Those family members become immersed in the drama of the alcoholic, trying to help them, feeling guilty if they can’t help and feeling responsible for the alcoholic and all their problems.  These family members frequently can’t see past the drama to understand that the problem belongs to the alcoholic, not to the family members.

The alcoholic may even be responsible for manipulating their friends and families into that type of thinking.  Whether it’s conscious or not, over time the alcoholic makes their family responsible for the problem.  It’s much easier for them to do this rather than to look in the mirror and take responsibility for their own life and problems.

Similar to AA, Al-anon is a group of people who get together to share their stories and to encourage others facing similar issues.  They focus on educating others in the group to better understand the tenants of alcoholism so they can encourage their alcoholic to get help.  They also focus just as much on helping the families of those alcoholics.

The 3 C’s

One of the sayings that show the core beliefs of Al-anon talks about “The 3 C’s”.

  • You didn’t CAUSE the addiction to alcohol
  • You can’t CURE it
  • You can’t CONTROL it

There are things you may be able to do to help the alcoholic, but you can’t fix this problem for the alcoholic.  Only the alcoholic themselves can fix it.

Again, similar to AA, these meetings are full of people who have lived through the wars, were helped by others, and have a strong desire to “give back” and help others who are now living through the same problems.

This is a group that can help family members whether or not the addict recognizes their problem or not.  The program can teach you how to control YOUR life and not let the alcoholic drag you down.

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