Frequently Asked Questions

Information for the Newcomer to Al-Anon

Welcome to Al-Anon. We know that you will find help and hope in meetings throughout Colorado and beyond. We offer here answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our fellowship.

 

Acronyms

What is WSO?

“WSO” stands for “World Service Office”.It is the headquarters of the entire Al-Anon fellowship and provides group services, records, literature, outreach information, archives and other services.

What does AC mean?

“AC” stands for “Adult Child.” This term refers to adults who were raised by someone who has/had a problem with alcohol. Meetings designated as “AC” often have a focus on this particular topic.

What does AFG mean?

“AFG” stands for “Al-Anon Family Groups.” Since alcoholism is a family disease, the Al-Anon Family Groups are organized to hold regular meetings to help people deal with the effects of alcoholism.

Al-Anon and AA

A lot of Al-Anon events are held with AA; why?

Shared events are one way in which we cooperate with AA in line with our traditions – “Our Al-Anon Family Groups ought never endorse, finance, or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems, of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim. Although a separate entity, we should always cooperate with Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Are there meetings for teenagers and pre-teens?

What about pre-teens?

In some locations there are Alateen meetings which include pre-teens. Check with the meeting to see what is the accepted age range of the group.

Do teenagers need to contact someone before attending a meeting?

Alateen is for any teenager between the ages of 13 and 19 who has been affected by someone else’s drinking. They do not have to contact anyone or obtain the permission of the group in order to attend. In some groups, the age range varies. The group will let them know if they are too young or too old for the meeting.

Who goes to Alateen?

Any teenager who has been or is affected by someone else’s drinking is invited to attend Alateen meetings. Each meeting has one or two experienced members of Al-Anon who are certified to work with Alateen groups. Other adults may attend only by invitation of the Alateen group.

What is Alateen?

Alateen is the part of Al-Anon that is specifically for teenagers who have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Alateen does not help teens with their own drinking problems.

Meetings

How do I start up a meeting?

Al-Anon members interested in starting a new group should contact WSO (World Service Office) to register their group and receive vital information. An email may be sent to: wso@al-anon.org subject=Starting a new group, in order to receive further process-related information.

What’s a speaker meeting?

An Al-Anon group may decide to devote part of their meeting to an invited individual who tells their story of how they came to Al-Anon and how the program has helped them.

Anonymity, what exactly is it?

“One of the Al-Anon program’s basic principles is that of anonymity. Meetings are confidential, and we do not disclose whom we see or what we hear at meetings to anyone” – Sponsorship – What It’s All About

People use funny language at meetings, I don’t understand it, what can I do?

This is a common occurrence for newcomers. After the meeting, feel free to ask someone to clarify the language. Reading Al-Anon conference approved literature can also be helpful.

I didn’t like a meeting; what do I do?

There is no requirement to keep going to the same meeting. You may want to try other meetings in your area to find one that helps you in your recovery.

How many meetings a week do I need to attend?

How many meetings you attend is a personal decision. We recommend you try several different meetings in order to find the ones that help you in your recovery.

Should I identify myself as a newcomer?

It is a good idea to introduce yourself as a newcomer using only your first name. This way we can provide you with some Al-Anon literature about the effects of the disease of alcoholism and after the meeting, answer any questions that you may have.

What could I expect at my first meeting?

At our group meetings, we share our experience, strength, and hope with one another, keeping the focus on ourselves and the Al-Anon tools of recovery. There is no requirement to share. By concentrating on our feelings and attitudes toward our situation – rather than on the details of the situation – we contribute to the group’s unity and our recovery. We talk about how the disease of alcoholism has affected our thinking and behavior. We talk about the part we played in our problems and how we change our attitudes and actions by applying the Al-Anon program to our lives.

What if someone who knows me is at my first meeting?

Al-Anon members practice anonymity. It helps us to feel safe and secure and know that we can share our experience, strength, and hope without having everyone in the world know it too. Other Al-Anon members will maintain that anonymity until you let them know otherwise. It’s not uncommon for an Al-Anon members to see one another in the store and not talk to each other, in an attempt to maintain anonymity.

Do I just show up at a meeting? Who do I contact?

Yes, just show up. A list of Colorado meetings can be found at <a href=”//www.al-anon-co.org”>www.al-anon-co.org</a>. Newcomers are very welcome at Al-Anon meetings. If you want to speak with someone before coming, look up Al-Anon in your local phone directory or call toll free 1-888-4AL-ANON (888-425-2666) Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm ET.

My Program

How long will I have to attend Al-Anon?

There are no “have to’s”; in Al-Anon only suggestions. Many Al-Anon members choose to work the Al-Anon program until they cannot any longer. Recovery in this program does not happen overnight and is a process that continues for as long as you want recovery.

Where can I buy literature?

Some meetings have literature for sale at the meeting place. You can also find literature at your local Service Center (or Literature Distribution Center). The addresses and phone numbers for one closest to you can be found by clicking the “Al-Anon Service Centers in Colorado” link on the home page of this web site. Literature can also be ordered on-line at  https://ecomm.al-anon.org/.

Do I need to get a sponsor?

“There are no musts in Al-Anon/Alateen. Sponsorship is not required, but experience shows that sponsorship is a valuable aid to personal understanding and the use of the Al-Anon program of recovery.” – Sponsorship – What It’s All About

What is a sponsor?

A sponsor is a special person with whom a member can discuss personal problems or questions, and one who willingly shares the experience, strength, and hope of the Al-Anon/Alateen program.

What can Al-Anon do for me?

Besides Al-Anon, what are my other options?

Because we are non-professional, we do not recommend sources of outside help. Through sharing of our personal experiences, members gain insight into dealing with their own situations. There are times when, in order to work through especially challenging circumstances, we may need more specialized help and support, such as therapy or legal counsel. Many of us have benefited from taking care of these needs in addition to coming to Al-Anon.

How does Al-Anon fit with other programs or help?

We consider Al-Anon to be an alternative for the family disease of alcoholism. Some Al-Anon members may also be associated with other 12-step programs or professional help. Within meetings, our Traditions suggest that the groups devote themselves to Al-Anon’s principles. Reviewing our work in programs or therapy sessions dilutes the Al-Anon message and can deprive others of the unique help Al-Anon has to offer.

 

How much does Al-Anon cost?

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.

Is Al-Anon good for my relationship problems?

The Al-Anon program asks us to take the focus off of the alcoholic (or other people, places and things) and turn it towards ourselves. In the process of doing this, we find that we are more capable of having healthier relationships as a result of working the steps.

Is Al-Anon a self-help program?

We consider Al-Anon a mutual support group. As stated in the Suggested Preamble to the Twelve Steps: “The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.”

How do I know if another person is an alcoholic?

Only the other person can decide if they are an alcoholic; however, you may be suffering from the disease of alcoholism if you are bothered or affected by someone else’s drinking. You may feel confused, depressed, nervous, be losing sleep, have overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and more. Al-Anon can help you with your problems.

Will you tell me how to get my husband to stop drinking so much?

The problems of a person with a drinking problem do not lie in the bottle, but in the individual. His recovery cannot begin until sobriety is obtained. No one can do this for the alcoholic. The person must make his own choices if recovery is to occur on any permanent basis. “Anyone who has suffered from the effects of someone else’s drinking faces constant emotional strains and pressures, and needs help in relieving these. You will find relief, understanding, support, and warmhearted help in an Al-Anon Family Group. There you will, as one member put it, ‘learn to live again'”. – So You Love an Alcoholic

I am not living with an alcoholic, but I have problems; is Al-Anon for me?

Al-Anon is for anyone suffering from the effects of someone else’s drinking.

I grew up in an alcoholic home; can I attend Al-Anon?

Yes, Al-Anon is for friends and family of alcoholics.