For Newcomers

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the members and why are they here? 

Members of Al-Anon are all kinds of people from all walks of life: wives, husbands, lovers, sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, parents, and coworkers of alcoholics. No matter what our relationship has been with a problem drinker, we share a common bond: we feel that our lives have been affected by another person’s drinking. We meet together to share our experience, strength and hope.

Al-Anon Family Groups is a community resource providing support to anyone affected by a relative or friend’s drinking. There are over 24,000 Al-Anon and 2,300 Alateen groups meeting in 115 countries.

Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization, or institution; does not engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause. There are no dues for membership. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.

How will it help me? 

You will probably hear about a situation much like your own. If you don’t find someone with the same set of circumstances, you may still be able to identify with the way many of us feel about the effects of alcoholism on our lives. We are all individuals striving to become the best people we can, each in our own way. That way is not the same for each of us, but there is help for everyone whose problem is another’s alcoholism.

Our 20-question self-quizzes can help you decide if Al-Anon may be of help. Select a quiz, listed below, and ask yourself the questions. If you identify with some of the sentiments, we encourage you to give Al-Anon a try!

Are You Troubled by Someone’s Drinking?

Did You Grow Up with a Problem Drinker?

What do you talk about in Al-Anon/Alateen meetings? 

There are countless topics for sharing and discussion in our meetings. The meeting chairperson chooses readings from our Conference Approved Literature on the Twelve Steps or Traditions, or on specific topics related to alcoholism such as anger, fear, conflict, relationships, people-pleasing, healing, control, happiness, or communication … the list is endless.

Members share their experience, strength, and hope with respect to the meeting topic. Individual members may talk about their growth in a particular area or how they have applied the principles of our program to their own lives in helping to solve their common, everyday problems.

In Al-Anon, we keep the focus on ourselves. This means that we do not give one another advice nor do we spend our meeting time talking about the alcoholic. We focus on our own growth and well-being.

There are two general types of Al-Anon meetings: open and closed. Open meetings are open to anyone who is interested in learning about Al-Anon or the effects of one’s alcoholism upon the people around them. Closed meetings are open to members and to anyone who feels that they may have been affected by another’s alcoholism.

Do I have to say anything? 

No. If you would rather sit and listen, you are free to do so. We try to listen with an open mind by practicing the slogan, Listen and Learn. We also say “Take what you like and leave the rest.” The group chairperson will call on those who wish to share.

Will anyone say I’ve been here? 

We are urged to respect each other’s anonymity. We use first names only and do not talk about the people we see, or repeat what we hear at meetings. We guard the anonymity of all Al- Anon/Alateen and AA members. We abide by “Who you see here and what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here”. We leave our titles and occupations outside the meeting room door because we come together as equals to solve our common problem: the effects of another’s alcoholism upon our lives.

Is this some kind of religious fellowship? 

No. Al-Anon is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. Members of any faith, or none at all, are welcome and we make it a point to avoid discussions of specific religious beliefs. The Al-Anon program is based on the spiritual idea that we can depend on a Power greater than ourselves for help in solving our problems and achieving peace of mind. We are free to define that power in our own terms and in our own way.

What is alcoholism? 

Alcoholism is widely recognized as a disease of compulsive drinking, which can be arrested, but not cured. It is a progressive illness, which will get only worse as long as the person continues to drink. Total abstinence from drinking is the only way to arrest the disease. Alcoholism affects the entire family; indeed, everyone who has contact with the alcoholic is affected. Unfortunately, the only person who can stop the alcoholic from drinking is the alcoholic himself or herself.

How do alcoholics affect family and friends? 

Alcoholism is a family disease. The disease affects all those who have a relationship with a problem drinker. Those of us closest to the alcoholic suffer the most, and those who care the most can easily get caught up in the behavior of another person. We react to the alcoholic’s behavior. We focus on them, what they do, where they are, how much they drink. We try to control their drinking for them. We take on the blame, guilt, and shame that really belong to the drinker. We can become as addicted to the alcoholic, as the alcoholic is to alcohol. We, too, can become ill.

Where can I find more information?

If you have any questions regarding Al-Anon please contact us by email at or leave a message on our 24-hour phone line at 905-522-1733 and someone will get back to you. You can also read some of the following literature which is available in pdf format

Our quick self-quizzes can help you decide if Al-Anon may be of help.

Select a quiz, listed below, and ask yourself the questions.
If you identify with some of the sentiments, we encourage you to give Al-Anon a try!