Is Al-Anon for me? A guide for Newcomers
How Can I Help My Problem Drinker Quit Drinking?
How does Al-Anon work?
There is no magic formula that enables you to help someone stop—or cut back—on his or her drinking. Alcoholism is a complex problem, with many related issues. But Al‑Anon can help you learn how to cope with the challenges of someone else’s drinking.
It may be that you could help matters by changing some of your own behaviors that make things worse. It may be possible for you to find a healthier way to respond to these challenges. Again, there are no easy answers. But Al‑Anon meetings offer the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others who have faced similar problems.
While simple problems may have simple solutions, the solution to complex problems is more difficult to explain. Al‑Anon simplifies a complex problem by suggesting a “One Day at a Time” approach, which takes things one step at a time.
At every Al‑Anon meeting, you can hear people explain how Al‑Anon worked for them. That may be the best place to start to learn about Al‑Anon—One Day at a Time.
If I decide to join Al-Anon, and follow the 12 Step program of recovery, how will my life change?
Al‑Anon members come to understand problem drinking as a family illness that affects everyone in the family. By listening to Al‑Anon members speak at Al‑Anon meetings, you can hear how they came to understand their own role in this family illness. This insight put them in a better position to play a positive role in the family’s future.
Some research shows that when problem drinkers enter a recovery program, their chances for success are improved when they are supported by family members who are in a family recovery program such as Al‑Anon.
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Virginia Beach, VA
Along with our personal experience, our literatures offers hope of a better future. In "From Survival to Recovery" pg 269-270, Published September 28th 1994 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. We read the following:
"If we willingly surrender ourselves to the spiritual discipline of the Twelve Steps, our lives will be transformed. We will become mature, responsible individuals with a great capacity for joy, fulfillment, and wonder.
Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential. We will discover that we are both worthy of love and loving. We will love others without losing ourselves, and will learn to accept love in return.
Our sight, once clouded and confused, will clear and we will be able to perceive reality and recognize truth.
Courage and fellowship will replace fear.
We will be able to risk failure to develop new, hidden talents.
Our lives, no matter how battered and degraded, will yield hope to share with others.
We will begin to feel and will come to know the vastness of our emotions, but we will not be slaves to them.
Our secrets will no longer bind us in shame.
As we gain the ability to forgive ourselves, our families, and the world, our choices will expand.
With dignity we will stand for ourselves, but not against our fellows.
Serenity and peace will have meaning for us as we allow our lives and the lives of those we love to flow day by day with God's ease, balance, and grace.
No longer terrified, we will discover we are free to delight in life's paradox, mystery, and awe.
We will laugh more.
Fear will be replaced by faith, and gratitude will come naturally as we realize that our Higher Power is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
The Twelve Steps
The Twelve Steps provide a means for taking specific, healthy actions in response to our frustration resulting from someone else's drinking. They help steer us away from the distorted thinking that inevitably results from such frustration. They provide guidance in developing a spiritual and psychologically-sound foundation from which to begin making productive decisions. The Steps are neither religious tenets, excerpts from any denomination, nor easy answers from concise self-help sources. They do not make large life decisions for us, nor do they provide concrete direction when we face difficult dilemmas regarding someone else's drinking.
They gradually guide our growth and provide spiritual comfort and discipline through improving our relationship with ourselves, other people and with the God of our understanding which is not defined by any religious doctrine.
As we grow and heal in these areas, we become increasingly more able to understand the far-reaching effects of someone else's alcoholism on us. We grow stronger and clearer in our thinking regarding our options, our responsibilities, and our lives.
These Twelve Steps, adapted nearly word-for-word from the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, have been a tool for spiritual growth for millions of Al-Anon/Alateen members. At meetings, Al-Anon/Alateen members share with each other the personal lessons they have learned from practicing from these Steps. The Twelve Steps are one of Al-Anon’s three Legacies, along with Al-Anon’s Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of Service. Al-Anon’s books and pamphlets have a great deal to say about how Al-Anon members use the three Legacies as a tool for spiritual growth. But the best way to come to understand the Legacies is to listen to members share at Al-Anon meetings.
1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
© Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
From 'Survival to Recovery',pg 9 and 'In All Our Affairs, Making Crisis Work for You' pg 3© Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1990
Al-Anon's gentle process unfolds gradually, over time. But those of us facing violent, potentially life-threatening situations may have to make immediate choices to ensure safety for ourselves and our children. This may mean arranging for a safe house with a neighbor or friend, calling for police protection, or leaving money and an extra set of car keys where they can be collected at any time in an emergency. It is not necessary to decide how to resolve the situation once and for all --- only how to get out of harm's way until this process of awareness, acceptance, and action can free us to make choices for ourselves that we can live with.
Anyone who has been physically or sexually abused or even threatened may be terrified of taking any action at all.
It can require every ounce of courage and faith to act decisively. But no one has to accept violence. No matter what seems to trigger the attack, we all deserve to be safe.