What Al-Anon Is, and What It Isn’t

Having a friend or a loved one with a drinking problem can be scary. It can cause you to worry, wondering if there’s anything you can do, and for some, it can lead to depression. If thoughts of your loved one are consuming your life, it’s a good idea to consider attending an Al-Anon meeting.

Al-Anon provides friends and family members of loved ones with a drinking problem with the ability to find the unique support they need, but what exactly does that mean?

There are some things Al-Anon can do for you, but there are also some things it can’t. It’s important to understand both before you attend your first meeting.

Al-Anon Is a Place to Find Support

Al-Anon is first and foremost a place to find support. That’s important because finding support, no matter what challenge you’re facing, is the best way to guard your mental health.

Those without the proper social support can suffer from:

  • Extreme loneliness and depression
  • Risk of suicide
  • Increased risk of substance abuse
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Altered brain function

Al-Anon tackles all of these possibilities by providing you with a place where you can discuss your worries and concerns with others who find themselves in a similar situation. Through this support network, you can gain insight into your own situation and find the strength to carry on.

Al-Anon Is Completely Anonymous

Talking about alcohol problems is not something that most people do openly. If you don’t want other people in your life to know you’re struggling with a loved one who has an addiction, Al-Anon is a good place for you.

Al-Anon comes with many benefits, especially with continued attendance, but one is the fact that attendance is completely anonymous. Group leaders and attendees must maintain complete confidentiality. There’s no need to share last names, addresses, and other personal information if you don’t want to. There are no records kept or information catalogued.

This level of anonymity means you don’t have to worry about a coworker discovering that you’re attending meetings, and it also means your alcoholic friend or family member doesn’t need to know you’re attending meetings either.

Al-Anon Is Not a Place to Plot an Intervention

Planning an intervention may be something you’re interested in doing. When planned and executed properly, it can help the person you care about get the help they need. However, planning an intervention is not something you’ll get to do in an Al-Anon meeting.

An Al-Anon meeting is all about you and your feelings. You talk about how you’re coping with an alcoholic loved one, and how other members are coping with their loved ones. It’s not about changing your loved one or getting the help they need. You will need to seek out the assistance of another group or professional to do that.

Al-Anon Does Not Come with Demands or Directions

Being a member of a group often comes with specific demands or directions. You won’t find any demands or directions at Al-Anon.

There are no rules about how many meetings you need to attend, what you need to wear, or homework you need to do when the meeting is done. Group leaders do not give orders or directions of any kind. It truly is a mutual-support group that comes with no strings attached.

All Al-Anon Groups and Meetings Are Not the Same

Attending your first Al-Anon meeting, or any meeting for that matter, can be scary. It can be disappointing to sit through your first meeting and not feel welcome or comfortable.

Finding the right support group isn’t easy. After all, finding the right family doctor or psychiatrist can be a challenge, so why wouldn’t finding the right support group be a challenge too!

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel comfortable in one group. Seek out another and give it a try until you find a good fit.

It’s not just the dynamic of the group that can differ. Each meeting can differ as well. Different topics may be discussed and different formats may be followed. Most follow the guidelines set forth by Al-Anon, but how those guidelines are followed can vary widely.

You can have some input too! Attendees can work with group leaders to make decisions about the format and content of future meetings.

Don’t let the fact that you’ve never been to an Al-Anon meeting before scare you away from attending for the first time. By knowing what to expect, and what not to expect, you can walk into your first meeting with confidence.