Al-Anon Family Groups Mark April Alcohol Awareness Month

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Relatives and friends of problem drinkers explain how they became aware of family recovery from alcoholism prior to attending their first Al-Anon meeting.

Strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers

Al-Anon Family Groups

Many people come to Al-Anon because a crisis makes them aware of a serious alcohol problem in a relative or friend.

Marking the 28th Annual April Alcohol Awareness Month, Al-Anon Family Group members recalled what led them to their first Al-Anon meeting. “People experience a variety of expectations prior to attending their first Al-Anon meeting,” Al-Anon Information Analyst Pamela Walters said. “Many people come to Al-Anon because a crisis makes them aware of a serious alcohol problem in a relative or friend.”

Awareness about a loved one’s alcohol problem can also lead to a fear of discovery. “No one wants the neighbors, co-workers, or relatives to know about a drinking problem,” Walters said. “As a natural result of their fears, people might miss opportunities to receive help. That’s why anonymity is such an important principle in the Al-Anon program.”

Ann, an anonymous Al-Anon member, received a professional recommendation to attend Al-Anon. “The counselor thought she was exhausting her knowledge about the impact alcoholism had on me, so she suggested I go to an Al-Anon meeting,” Ann said. “I was very warmly greeted by people who were at different levels in their own recovery. I stayed because I wanted to listen to what everyone had to say. What I heard was a little bit of hope, and I also heard humor. To me when I hear a little bit of humor, I know everything is going to be okay.”

Linda, also an anonymous Al-Anon member, heard about Al-Anon through a co-worker. Linda said, “I was very grateful at my first Al-Anon meeting that there were no expectations of me. People took turns talking. They listened to what I had to say without judgment. I didn’t have to pay for anything. There were no dues or fees, and it was a safe place to be. I didn’t feel like I had to talk if I didn’t want to, and I really appreciated that everyone was so accepting of me.”

Betty, now an anonymous member, went to her first Al-Anon meeting because her husband and a social worker told her it would be really helpful. Betty said, “I thought to myself, I don’t need the help. But maybe if I go to these meetings they can tell me what to do so I can raise my kids so they won’t be alcoholics. When I got there, I found a group of people who were just like me. People were sharing things that I would never have dreamed of talking about. My one feeling was a feeling of great relief—I am not the only person in this world who feels this way.” Betty said, “I kept coming back because I loved the way those meetings made me feel.”

Al-Anon Family Groups are for families and friends who have been affected by the problem drinking of someone close to them. Nearly 16,000 local groups meet every week throughout the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. Al-Anon Family Groups meet in more than 130 countries, and Al-Anon literature is available in more than 40 languages. Al-Anon Family Groups have been offering strength and support to families and friends of alcoholics since 1951. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. acts as the clearinghouse worldwide for inquiries from those who need help or want information about Al-Anon Family Groups and Alateen, its program for teenage members.

For more information about Al-Anon Family Groups, go to, or read a copy of "Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2014." Find a local meeting by calling toll-free: 1-888-4AL-ANON.

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Pamela Walters
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