If your husband is struggling with alcohol or you know someone else who is, you are not alone — and you don’t have to walk that path alone, either. Nearly 75 years ago, Al-Anon was founded to help people who have been impacted by another person’s substance abuse. Al-Anon is a free support program with only one requirement for membership: that you have been affected by someone’s drinking or drug use. Could Al-Anon be right for you? Read on for more.
What is Al-Anon?
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded way back in 1935 to help people struggling with alcoholism. Not long after that, people realized that the wives and loved ones of alcoholics deserved community and support, too. So, Al-Anon was founded in 1951. Today, Al-Anon is an international organization with support groups worldwide. It is not a for-profit group. Rather, it’s what’s known as a “mutual aid fellowship”: people gathering together to help each other out. Groups accept donations to help cover the cost of expenses like meeting space, but no one is ever required to pay money to access an Al-Anon meeting. More information and a meeting finder is available at al-anon.org.
Do I Need Al-Anon?
The only requirement for attending an Al-Anon meeting (as stated by Al-Anon themselves) is “that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.” Today, most Al-Anon groups interpret that more broadly to include drug use as well. Some Al-Anon meetings are even labeled “open,” which means that anyone can attend — even if they don’t think they know someone with an addiction problem.
All that said, it’s up to you to decide whether Al-Anon could be beneficial. You don’t have to meet a certain threshold of pain before you go. If someone’s alcohol use is impacting your life in a negative way, then you might find support and tools for a more peaceful life in Al-Anon.
What Happens in an Al-Anon Meeting?
Every Al-Anon meeting is different. Most are about an hour long, though some are shorter or longer. Most meetings start with short readings and business items before dedicating most of the meeting to “shares,” or opportunities for meeting attendees to speak. No one is ever required to speak in a meeting. Especially if you are a newcomer, it’s completely fine to sit and listen. Meetings usually wrap up with another reading or prayer, and attendees often stay to chat at the meeting’s end, so you can use that time to speak one-on-one with other people who’ve been in your shoes. However, leaving immediately is fine, too.
One of the biggest benefits of Al-Anon is simply finding comfort in the fact that other people are going through or have successfully gone through problems similar to yours. In listening to their stories, you can find hope, inspiration, and also helpful tips on managing your own pain. Books and workbooks associated with Al-Anon and available at meetings can help as well. Overall, the focus of Al-Anon is on helping you get better, not on “fixing” your loved one.
Get Help for an Alcoholic Husband
If you are ready to get help for an alcoholic husband, mother, sister, or loved one, residential treatment may be the best option. There, they can focus on their own healing while giving you time and space to focus on yours. For more information on what happens in rehab, explore our blog or give our admissions team a call to start a new period of hope and growth for your family.