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What is Al-Anon?

A Brief History of Al-Anon

The Al-Anon Family Groups are made up for Al-Anon and Alateen, which currently haveover half a million members consisting of men, women and teens. The group provides a 12 step recovery program for friends and family of AA and NA members. Al-Anon is for adults, while Alateen is for young people (usually between the ages of 12 and 20). Al-Anon was formed in 1951 by Lois Wilson, the wife of Bill W who was a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lois saw a need for a support network for the people who had suffered as a result of a loved one's addiction, and so that they could discover their own pathologies associted with substance abuse.

The 12 steps that Al-Anon uses are slightly modified from the AA version. The literature is used to focus on problems common to friends and family of member of alocholics, for example, loyalty to those who are abusive, excessive care-taking, inability to differentiate love and pity, etc. Meetings are usually small, between 5 to 20 people. In larger meetings, members tend to split up into smaller groups after the opening readings so that everyone has a chance to share their stories. Sharing is less about blame, and more about understanding alcoholism and members' emotions

Al-Anon teaches its members that low self esteem begins with their unrealistic efforts to control another person's drinking behavior. When they fail they tend to blame themselves, when really they should forgive themselves and learn to accept their family member's shortcomings as they begin to improve. It is suggested that membership of family members in both Al-Anon and AA helps to improve abstinence and family happiness.

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