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How Alanon and the 12 Steps Help Families of Alcoholics

Updated on February 12, 2019
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 is for People Who Love An Alcoholic, But Need Help Dealing With the Problems They Cause

If you love an alcoholic and they are breaking your heart, or worrying you, then you may find help in Alanon.
If you love an alcoholic and they are breaking your heart, or worrying you, then you may find help in Alanon. | Source

What is Alanon?

Alanon, also written as Al-anon, is an international organization established by Lois Wilson, the wife of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alanon was created to provide help and encouragement to the family and friends of alcoholics and other people with substance abuse problems.

Many people wonder whether or not this organization is right for them. For example, they often ask if the person who suffers from alcoholism has to be a close family member? No. You are welcome to attend Alanon meetings if anyone you know has a drinking problem that is upsetting you. This person could be your parent, child, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, brother, sister, child, business associate, or grandparent! I have even known of people who have gone to Alanon meetings because their boss was a heavy drinker, and they didn't know how to handle the situation. If someone else’s drinking bothers you, then you will find an understanding group of friends when you attend Al anon meetings. This is especially true if the other person’s drinking is creating stress or problems for you.

If you are a teenager, you may also want to attend Alateen meetings, a division of Alanon that is geared especially for the teenage children of alcoholics. Alateens have unique problems because the person who has a drinking problem can also have a lot of control over their lives. Being around other teens who are going through the same thing can be extremely helpful.

Learn More About How Al-Anon Has Helped Me and Millions of Others

How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics by Al-Anon Family Groups (2008) Paperback
How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics by Al-Anon Family Groups (2008) Paperback
This is the book which my Alanon friends and I repeatedly turn to for help. Whenever we are frustrated with the behavior of an alcoholic, we can read different sections of this book to find a section which will help restore our peace-of-mind.

What Are Indications that an Al Anon Meeting Could Benefit You?

There are many types of thoughts and behaviors that could indicate that Alanon could help you. Here are some examples:

Do you ever feel guilty because of someone else’s drinking?

Do you think they would not have gotten drunk if you had not made them angry or upset? Do you try to reason with them?

Do you lay awake at night trying to think of a new approach, or some action you could take that would “save” this person?

Are you ever embarrassed by the behavior of a drinker?

Do you ever put yourself in dangerous situations by riding in a car with a drunk driver?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then 12 Steps of Alanon and the Al Anon slogans will help you get through those days when you feel that worry, guilt or embarrassment.

Listed below are some behaviors that indicate that Alanon could help you.

Do You Ever Get in the Car with a Drunk Driver?

Are you uncomfortable refusing to ride with a drunk driver? Do you climb into the car, knowing that you are putting your own life in danger, and possibly the lives of your children? After you have been in Alanon a while, you may gradually begin to feel comfortable standing up for yourself in life-threatening situations.

Do You Avoid Social Activities Because of Someone's Drinking?

Have you given up doing something or decided not to spend time with friends because your spouse is too drunk to go? Or, do you skip certain activities because you want to avoid social situations where you suspect there will be a lot of drinking? Does someone else’s drinking cause you to retreat and stay home? Alanon may help you learn how you can have a more full social life.

Do You Fight with the Alcoholic or Drug Abuser over Financial Problems?

Is there a lot of financial stress and anger in your home? Does the alcoholic steal money from you, or spend money on alcohol or drugs that was intended for family expenses? Are they constantly asking to borrow from you? One skill that you will learn at Alanon meetings is how to set reasonable boundaries.

Have You Ever Tried to Hide Someone's Substance Abuse Problem?

Have you ever lied about why someone missed work? Did you call their employer to say they were sick when they were really drunk or experiencing a hangover? Do you make excuses about why you can’t visit friends? Have you ever felt too embarrassed to tell the truth? Alanon will help you learn how to stop enabling their behavior.

Alanon Can Help You

If you said yes to even one of these questions, then you will find that attending Alanon meetings, learning the 12 Steps, and repeating the Al anon Slogans are all wonderful resources for you. This program has solutions that will help get your life back on track. When you go to a meeting, you will find a loving and supportive group of people who have gone through many of the same situations you are experiencing.

You can find AlAnon Family Groups listed on the internet, or in your local phone book. Meetings are held around the world, in multiple languages, so one should not be too far from you.

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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    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you, WhydThathappen. I agree that Alanon has helped empower many of the friends and family members of alcoholics.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Yes, Alanon has helped to empower millions of people and relieve them of their pain.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great read for empowerment of those with alcoholic family or friends.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      7 years ago from North Texas

      Sharing again in hopes that people who need help but don't know where to turn will see this article and seek the help they need.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      7 years ago from North Texas

      Going to share this again hoping people will read and understand what Alanon is and how it works and possibly find the help they need.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Orange County, California

      You are so right that alcoholics will find a way to get their booze, no matter what other bills they cannot pay. In fact, one piece of Alanon literature advises people not to pour out the alcohol, because the alcoholic will manage to find more. I hope people who have alcoholics in their lives will find some peace and serenity.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      8 years ago from North Texas

      It's funny how alcoholics will always dig up the money to buy their weakness, but not have money to pay the electric or cable bill, or whatever bill happens to be due. All of these steps in the program are so useful to someone who doesn't know where to turn. Sharing.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for reading this article. I am sure that nearly everyone knows someone who has a problem with alcohol ... although alcoholics often think they are keeping it secret. I hope that you share this information with anyone who may be affected by your friend's drinking.

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      Your information here is very important and I'm going to share it with my followers. My long time friend came for a visit yesterday. We were discussing this subject. We have a mutual friend with an alcohol problem.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for reading this article about alcoholics and their families. Alanon has helped millions of friends and family members of alcoholics survive the chaos.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This information will help many people if they find themselves in similar situations. Thanks for sharing. Rated useful.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      9 years ago from Winnipeg

      Really good information for anyone in those situations noted. I really like how you made reference to specific circumstances would make sense to get in touch with the Help group. Thanks for sharing!


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