Al-Anon is a 12-step program that adopted the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous word-for-word, except for the 12th step, changing the word “alcoholics” to “others.” The “others” program is akin to AA but aids families and friends of those with an alcohol use disorder. In the group, they practice the 12 steps, give support to families, and provide understanding and encouragement. Shared experiences, problems, and successes characterize the group.
“Al-Anon members are people, just like you, who are worried about someone with a drinking problem. We can find understanding and support when we share our common experience with each other. Some of us are here because a spouse or partner has struggled with alcoholism. For others, the problem drinker is a parent, child, or grandchild. Sometimes a brother, a sister, or some other friend or relative brings us to Al-Anon. Many of us have had more than one alcoholic [sic] family member or friend.” Al-Anon
The “Others” Program Al-Anon
Most people attend Al-Anon because they have someone in their life who is struggling with substance use. This might be a spouse, mother, child, sibling, co-worker, friend, etc. The meetings are open and welcoming and are usually held in the same location as AA meetings.
Interestingly, some of the most valuable sharing in Al-Anon meetings involves learning to care for oneself. At Sanford Behavioral Health, we understand the vital role families play in a person’s recovery. The family programs at Sanford were created to include our clients’ loved ones during treatment and beyond.
The Sanford Family Program provides education and support about the disease of addiction, recovery, and how to create a recovery-friendly home. Family involvement is one of the essential components of a healthy long-term recovery. Because of this, we provide these programs at no charge to our client’s families. Al-Anon is another long-term way for families to learn about addiction and how to manage living with someone addicted to alcohol. At Sanford residential treatment for addiction, we include Al-Anon meetings in nightly excursions to explore recovery support groups.
Getting a sponsor in Al-Anon is a good way to see things from a different perspective. Sponsors provide clarity in understanding that:
- You do not have to take on the problems, issues, and chaos of your qualifier.
- You can focus on your recovery without guilt.
- You must take care of yourself.
- You cannot control another person.
- Enabling is not a way to feel needed in your relationship with a person with an alcohol use disorder.
Enabling vs. Detaching With Love
Family members might enable because of the fear of no longer feeling needed or of letting go of a situation that has become normalized. Enabling may fill an emotional void or feelings of inadequacy. Enabling may also be based on fear of losing control. There are ways to detach from an alcohol or drug user with love. Indeed, helping another person doesn’t always mean doing something to them or for them directly to support their recovery. It means everyone in the family works on their recovery program. And they share their growth with each other.
Take the Quiz
Has someone else’s drinking affected your life? Click the link below and take the Al-Anon Quiz.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol misuse, click the link below and call today.