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How Alanon Can Help You Change Your Life

Updated on April 22, 2017
Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah has several alcoholic relatives. She became active in Al-anon, for families of alcoholics, over 37 years ago, often helping others.

Alanon Helps Us Take Care of Ourselves, Whether the Alcoholic Continues to Drink or Not

Do You Love Someone With An Alcohol Abuse Problem?  Alanon can help you improve life for both of you ... by teaching you how to make them take responsibility for their own life and helping you learn to focus more attention on improving your own  life
Do You Love Someone With An Alcohol Abuse Problem? Alanon can help you improve life for both of you ... by teaching you how to make them take responsibility for their own life and helping you learn to focus more attention on improving your own life | Source

What Is Alanon?

Until the day my husband joined Alcoholics Anonymous, I had never heard of Alanon, and had no idea that there was an organization designed to help those of us who love an alcoholic. Started by Lois Wilson, the wife Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson, Alanon has changed the lives of tens of thousands of spouses, parents, adult children and friends of alcoholics. Alanon is not a division of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a completely unique and separate organization. However, they do have some aspects which are the same, and they are designed to complement each other. In what ways are they similar, how are they different, and how can Alanon help you?

How Alanon is Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous

Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon is also a 12 Step Program. Members use the same 12 steps as the alcoholics, with one small change. In the 12th step of AA, members are asked to share their program with “other alcoholics.” In Alanon, the words “other alcoholics” are changed simply to one word, “others.”

Another similarity between the two groups is when and where they meet. For the convenience of couples, AA meetings and Alanon meetings are sometimes held at the same time, and in near proximity. However, they are not limited to meeting in conjunction with each other. Frequently, meetings of both groups are also held completely separately. When possible, Alanon members are also encouraged to go to open AA meetings, which help them come to understand more about the problem of alcoholism.

Another similarity between the two organizations is that both members of AA and members of Alanon are trying to recover from an addiction. In AA, the addiction is to alcohol. In Alanon, the addiction is more subtle. Alanon members are often said to be addicted to alcoholics! In other cases, they seem to be addicted to “fixing” other people, whether those people have a problem with alcohol or not.

However each individual Alanon member views his or her addiction, they have to learn to accept the fact that they are not able to control other people. Indeed, it is their effort to control others which is frequently causing them so much misery and unhappiness. Just as the alcoholic has an addiction they need to kick, so does the member of Alanon.

Alanon teaches us that we did not cause the alcoholism or addiction, we can't control it, and we can't cure it. We can only work to improve the quality of our own lives and let the alcoholic or addict learn how to deal with the consequences of their own decisions.

Learn More About Alanon's 12 Step Program

Al-Anons Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions
Al-Anons Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions

Every member of Alanon will want to have this book. It will help you to understand the 12 Steps and how they apply to members of Al-anon as much as they do to members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Order the book online and you will have the opportunity to learn more about this program in the privacy of your own home.


How Alanon is Different from Alcoholics Anonymous

As mentioned above, the most obvious difference between Alanon and Alcoholics Anonymous is that the members of Alanon are not trying to recover from an addiction to alcohol but, rather, an addiction to the alcoholics. However, there are also other differences.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, the members often discuss their past experiences with alcohol, and the personal, physical and emotional problems that have resulted. In Alanon, the newcomer wants to discuss someone else’s experiences with alcohol, and the resulting problems! However, gradually the Alanon newcomer will learn that the program is not really about the alcoholic. It is about finding a better way for them to live a life that is separate from the turmoil caused by someone else’s drinking! Alanon members learn to stop talking about how to fix the alcoholic, and begin to talk about how they can improve their own life.

This approach is not always what the Alanon member expects. How does Alanon help someone who is worried about the drinking behavior of someone else? Very gradually they are taught that they cannot fix anyone else, no matter how much they worry. Instead, the only people they can change are themselves. Eventually, they learn that they can still lead a happy, productive life, whether the alcoholic is still drinking, or not. This realization can be startling to anyone who has come to feel that they will be miserable for the rest of their lives, unless someone else changes!

Can You Be Helped by Alanon?

If you love an alcoholic, whether you live with them or not, you may find great comfort in finding a group of caring people who are also going through many of the same experiences that have troubled you. Being able to share your experience with someone else can be a healthy step towards a new way of life.

Even if you believe that no one has experienced as much pain, or been through as much turmoil, you will soon discover that there are others who will understand what you are going through. They will also be there to help guide you in finding ways to enjoy real happiness and satisfaction in your life, once again.

This Book Has Helped Thousands of People with Troubled Marriages Due to Alcoholism and Addiction

The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage
The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage

If the alcoholic or addict you love happens to be your spouse, you will find this book to be very eye-opening. I read it several times when I first came into Al-anon and I have recommended it to many other people.


How to Find Alanon Meetings in Your Area

If you are considering joining Alanon, nearly every city and major county in the United States has a central office. Look in the phone book, or online, for Alanon Family Groups in your area. They will be able to help you find a meeting at a time and place that is convenient for you. In many places, you will be surprised to learn that there are dozens of meetings going on each week. In some smaller areas, there may only be one or two meetings a week. In either case, going to a meeting is the first step in getting your life back on track. If you keep going, you may be amazed at how much better you will feel!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Deborah-Diane


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    • ezzly profile image


      4 years ago

      This is a very heartfelt and honest hub and I thank you for that. I have read excerpts from codependent no more which is based on the 12 steps except for anybody who is a caregiver in what is a "dysfunctional" environment .

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Orange County, California

      Au fait - You are so right that many people don't know how to change the direction their life has taken. Alanon has helped millions of people find a new way of living, even when they have an alcoholic or addict in their family.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Sometimes people want to change their lives and really don't know where to start. Especially if they've been in a particular situation or lifestyle for a long time. This article can help them get started down the right road to improvement. Sharing.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Orange County, California

      This is the time of year when the number of visitors to Alanon meetings grows substantially. So many people have a difficult time because their loved ones are drinking during the holidays!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Sharing this article again because New Year's may be when some people will decide to change their lives for the better and need this organization to help them. Not only is it a time when some people are making resolutions, but a time when some people will realize for the first time that there is a problem in the first place and that there is help available. Hopefully they will read this article and get pointed in the right direction towards help.


    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Sharing this article again because there may be someone out there who is searching for a way to make their lives bearable and sane. This is a great explanation of Alanon and how it can help people who don't know where to turn.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      You can find AA and Alanon programs in the larger cities of Peru, and it really does help both alcoholics and their families (who accept the help). Family members definitely need support to deal with all the havoc it wreaks on their lives. This is very useful. Voted up!

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, California

      I know that Alanon has certainly changed my life and the lives of many of the people I know who have also chosen to follow this program. It uses the 12 Steps to help us methodically learn how to change our own lives, just as we hope that the 12 Steps of AA will eventually help the alcoholics change their lives. Thank you for sharing this information. It could really help someone!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      For people who need support and have a difficult time compartmentalizing their lives when that is necessary, Alanon can be a life saver. It can make life bearable and even give the hope and the energy needed to change one's life for the better. Voted up, useful, and will share.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for your comments. Whether he ever stops drinking or not, your life will be easier if you go to Alanon. I hope you do give it a try!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you.

      I am in love with a drinker. He wasn't drinking when I first met him - although I did find out much later that he had been a drinker before I met him.

      I can't change him - only how I deal with him in our relationship.

      I've thought about Al-Anon before but now I believe I NEED to do something.

    • blessed365 profile image

      Vicky C. 

      7 years ago from New England

      Thanks for the information. I may need to look into this.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for your comments. I am sure that Alanon saved my marriage. Just having a sober husband was not enough. We both had to change some aspects of our behavior, too!

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 

      7 years ago

      Good job! Al-Anon is a solution for many people. It can help in so many ways. Thank you for posting this hub.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting, lots of info and well presented.

      I now look forward to reading many more hubs by you.

      Take care and I vote this one up without a doubt.

      Take care


    • souleru profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting and I learned something new

    • stars439 profile image


      8 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Wonderful Hub, and Informative. GBY.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for your comment. I hope that this article will help many people feel more comfortable with the ideal of going to an Alanon meeting, especially if they have active alcoholics in their lives.

    • smcopywrite profile image


      8 years ago from all over the web

      this information was very helpful in getting the specifics for alanon. i found lots of information i wasn't aware of.


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