Al-Anon/Alateen

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Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
Type 501(c)(3) Nonprofit corporation
Industry Mental Health, Crisis Intervention (Alcohol, Drug Abuse (Treatment Only))
Founder(s) Anne B.
Lois W.
Headquarters Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
Area served Worldwide
Revenue US$ 4,761,781 (2012)
Net income US$ -283,887 (2012)
Total assets US$ 9,960,631 (2012)
Total equity US$ 8,048,631 (2012)
Website

www.al-anon.org

Source of Financial Information: "2012 IRS Form 990". 

Al-Anon/Alateen,Al-Anon Family Groups, or Al-Anon, are different terms for the same "worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help."[1] Alateen "is part of the Al-Anon fellowship designed for the younger relatives and friends of alcoholics through the teen years."[2]

About[edit]

Al-Anon defines itself as an independent fellowship with the stated purpose of helping relatives and friends of alcoholics.[3] Al-Anon holds the view that alcoholism is a family illness.[3] Al-Anon's "Preamble to the Twelve Steps" provides a general description:

The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.

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.

Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.[3]

Al-Anon is not an intervention program, nor does it have the stated primary purpose of arresting another's compulsive drinking or substance abuse.

Meetings[edit]

Members meet in group meetings. Meetings are usually small (five to twenty-five in attendance); in larger meetings, members often split into smaller groups after the opening readings so that everyone will have a chance to speak.[4]

Many Al-Anon family group meetings begin with the "Suggested Al-Anon/Alateen Welcome," which starts:

"We welcome you to the [Name of Group] Al-Anon Family Group and hope you will find in this fellowship the help and friendship we have been privileged to enjoy. We who live, or have lived, with the problem of alcoholism understand as perhaps few others can. We, too, were lonely and frustrated, but in Al-Anon we discover that no situation is really hopeless, and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not."[5]

History[edit]

Al-Anon was formed in 1951, which is 16 years after A.A. was founded (June 10, 1935).[6] Al-Anon was co-founded by Anne B. and Lois W.—wife of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) co-founder Bill W.[7] Prior to the formation of Al-Anon proper, independent groups of families of alcoholics met. "Bill thought the[se] groups could be consolidated and that Lois should be the one to take it on."[7]

Al-Anon adopted the "Twelve Steps" from Alcoholics Anonymous for their use "word for word with the exception of the Twelfth Step," changing the word alcoholics to others ("we tried to carry this message to others"[8]).[9]

The Al‑Anon name is a derivative of the first portions of the words Alcoholics Anonymous.[10]

Alateen[edit]

Alateen is part of Al-Anon. It began in California in 1957, when a teenager named "Bob joined with five other young people who had been affected by the alcoholism of a family member."[11]

Purpose[edit]

Many people come to Al-Anon to get help in stopping someone else's drinking. However, Al-Anon, as a program, recognizes that the friends and families of alcoholics are often traumatized themselves, and in need of emotional support and understanding.

As the spouse of an alcoholic, Lois W.—the co-founder of Al-Anon—wrote that she needed help for herself:

After a while I began to wonder why I was not as happy as I ought to be, since the one thing I had been yearning for all my married life [Bill's sobriety] had come to pass. Then one Sunday, Bill asked me if I was ready to go to the meeting with him. To my own astonishment as well as his, I burst forth with, “Damn your old meetings!” and threw a shoe as hard as I could.

This surprising display of temper over nothing pulled me up short and made me start to analyze my own attitudes. …

My life's purpose of sobering up Bill, which had made me feel desperately needed, had vanished. … I decided to strive for my own spiritual growth. I used the same principles as he did to learn how to change my attitudes. …

We began to learn … that the partner of the alcoholic also needed to live by a spiritual program.[12]

Benefits[edit]

Problems[edit]

The Al-Anon/Alateen literature focuses on problems common to family members and friends of alcoholics, such as excessive care-taking, an inability to differentiate between love and pity, and loyalty to those who are abusive, rather than the problems of the alcoholic.[4]

Al-Anon acknowledges that members may begin with low self-esteem, but teaches that this condition largely could be a side-effect of unrealistically overestimating their own personal agency and control. Specifically, this is in relation to members' attempts to control another person's drinking behavior and, when they fail, blaming themselves for the other person's behavior.[4]

Participation in Al-Anon has been associated with less personal blame among females who, as a whole, engage in more initial personal blame for the drinking than males.[13]

Improvement[edit]

Family members of alcoholics begin to improve as they learn to recognize the pathologies in their families, assign the responsibility of those pathologies to a disease, forgive themselves, accept that they were adversely affected by the pathologies, and ultimately learn to accept their family members' shortcomings.[14]

Al-Anon members are encouraged to keep the focus on themselves and not the alcoholic. While members believe changed attitudes can aid recovery, they also stress that one person did not cause, cannot cure, and cannot control another person's alcoholic-related choices and behaviors.[15]

Treatment of alcoholism[edit]

The primary purpose of Al-Anon is to help families and friends of alcoholics.[3] Al-Anon's purpose isn't necessarily to stop alcoholism in others, nor to instruct and assist families with interventions.

When an alcoholic's spouse is active in Al-Anon and the alcoholic is active in A.A., the alcoholic is more likely to be abstinent, marital happiness is more likely to be improved, and the parenting of both the alcoholic and his/her spouse is more likely to be bettered.[16][17]

A 1999 clinical analysis of methods used by concerned significant others (CSOs) to encourage alcoholics to seek treatment has shown participation in Al-Anon to be mostly ineffective towards this goal. However, the same psychologists found that an approach they call Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) was significantly more effective than Al-Anon participation for the purposes of arresting alcoholism in others.[18][19]

Demographics[edit]

Al-Anon[edit]

Al-Anon is open to all family members and friends of alcoholics, but is primarily composed of female partners/spouses of alcoholics. Groups focusing on adult children of alcoholics have become common. Nearly all of the Al-Anon members in the United States are white (95%), 60-80% are women, half are married, and a third have a college degree.[4]

In 2007, Al-Anon Family Groups published their 2006 Member Survey Results of demographic and other information from Al-Anon members in Canada and The United States. Of those who responded (645), 88% indicated they were caucasian, 85% were female, and 58% were married.[20] (One key finding was that "82% reported their mental health and well-being was much improved due to Al-Anon."[20])

Alateen[edit]

For Al-Anon Family Group's 2006 Alateen Member Survey, 139 Alateen members responded. It was conducted in The United States alone. 65% of the respondents were female, 35% male, 72% caucasian, and 20% spoke Spanish fluently. The average age of respondents was 14 years old. One third of Al-Anon respondents (above) had children at home under the age of 21.[21]

Organizational structure[edit]

The structure of Al-Anon Family Groups is unique. A chart of the structure can be depicted as an upside-down pyramid (see fig. 1). Instead of Al-Anon headquarters sitting at the top of the organization, Al-Anon headquarters sits at the bottom. At the top are the numerous independent ("autonomous"[22]) groups that register with Al-Anon headquarters. Headquarters is also known as the "World Service Office" (WSO).

Fig. 1. Depiction of the Al-Anon/Alateen organization structure.

Groups[edit]

Group meetings are where Al-Anon or Alateen members meet for fellowship and support. Each group can elect a representative, called a Group Representative (GR), who represents a group at district and area meetings.

Districts[edit]

For example, in Houston, Texas—one of the largest cities in the United States—the Al-Anon and Alateen groups elect Group Representatives (GRs) to attend district meetings in District 5 in East Texas Area. At these meetings, they discuss service activities, group issues, and serve as a forum for groups and information from the area and world service. For the benefit of the local fellowship, the district may host regular events, such as workshops and speaker meetings. In keeping with Al-Anon’s structure, Group Representatives are the only ones who can vote on issues and officers at District meetings. [23]

Areas[edit]

An area will comprise several districts. For example, Texas is divided into two Al-Anon areas, called East Texas Area and West Texas Area. Each area in Texas has about a dozen Al-Anon districts, for a total of about 24 Al-Anon districts in Texas. (These two areas have a combined website, Texas Al-Anon/Alateen, where they list events and provide other information.)

Each area will have regular meetings, called assemblies, where the GRs meet and vote on items that impact that area, and will also host workshops and speakers. Group Representatives will represent their groups at the assemblies and take area information back to their groups. [24][25]

World Service[edit]

At area assemblies, the Group Representatives elect a delegate to participate at the annual World Service Conferences. The World Service Conference (WSC) meets annually to interface with the World Service Office (WSO), which is managed by administrators and overseen by the Board of Trustees, who meet more regularly in their own meetings.

Democracy and accountability[edit]

Al-Anon promotes democracy and accountability within the organization. One of the Warranties of Al-Anon's "General Warranties of the Conference" is "That though the Conference serves Al-Anon it shall never perform any act of government; and that like the fellowship of Al-Anon Family Groups which it serves, it shall always remain democratic in thought and action."[26] Another is "That no Conference member shall be placed in unqualified authority over other members."[26]

Also, Tradition Two of Al-Anon's "Twelve Traditions" states that for groups, "Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern." Tradition Nine of the Al-Anon's "Twelve Traditions" states, "Our groups, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve."[22] Districts and areas are designed to be directly responsible to the groups.

The World Service Office, a branch of world service, is accountable to the World Service Conference. In turn, the World Service Conference is responsible to the areas, through the elected area delegates, which makes the World Service Conference ultimately responsible to the groups. Concept One of Al-Anon's "Twelve Concepts of Service" states, "The ultimate responsibility and authority for Al-Anon world services belongs to the Al-Anon groups."[27]

Al-Anon in film[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. "Detachment". Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  2. ^ Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. "Fact Sheet for Professionals". Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d Al-Anon Family Groups. "Suggested Al-Anon Preamble to the Twelve Steps". www.al-anon.alateen.org. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  4. ^ a b c d Humphreys, Keith; Kaskutas, Lee A (1995). "World Views of Alcoholics Anonymous, Women for Sobriety, and Adult Children of Alcoholics/Al-Anon Mutual Help Groups". Addiction Research & Theory 3 (3): 231–243. doi:10.3109/16066359509005240. 
  5. ^ Al-Anon Family Groups. "Al-Anon Guideline: A Meeting on Wheels, G-22". www.al-anon.alateen.org. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. p. 1. Retrieved 2010-04-26. , "Suggested Al-Anon/Alateen Welcome"
  6. ^ "AA Timeline". Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  7. ^ a b "Lois' Story". Stepping Stones: The Historic Home of Bill and Lois Wilson. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  8. ^ "The Twelve Steps". Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  9. ^ "Al-Anon’s History". How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1995. p. 127. ISBN 0-910034-26-5. OCLC 32951492. 
  10. ^ 2014-2017 Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 2013. p. 139. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  11. ^ "Al-Anon’s History". How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1995. p. 131. ISBN 0-910034-26-5. OCLC 32951492. 
  12. ^ Lois W. (1995). "Lois’s story". How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. pp. 136–137. ISBN 0-910034-26-5. OCLC 32951492. 
  13. ^ Kingree, J. B.; Thompson, Martie (2000). "Twelve-Step Groups, Attributions of Blame for Personal Sadness, Psychological Well-Being, and the Moderating Role of Gender". Journal of Applied Social Psychology 30 (3): 499–517. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02493.x. ISSN 1559-1816. 
  14. ^ Humphreys, K (April 1996). "World view change in adult children of Alcoholics/Al-Anon self-help groups: reconstructing the alcoholic family". International journal of group psychotherapy 46 (2): 255–63. ISSN 0020-7284. PMID 8935765. 
  15. ^ Al-Anon Family Groups (1997). "Step One". Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions and Concepts. Al-Anon Family Groups. ISBN 0-910034-31-1. 
  16. ^ Wright, KD; Scott, TB (September 1978). "The relationship of wives' treatment to the drinking status of alcoholics". Journal of studies on alcohol 39 (9): 1577–1581. ISSN 0096-882X. PMID 215841. 
  17. ^ Corenblum, B; Fischer, DG (May 1975). "Some correlates of Al-Anon group membership". Journal of studies on alcohol 36 (5): 675–677. ISSN 0096-882X. PMID 239290. 
  18. ^ Miller, WR; Meyers, RJ; Tonigan, JS (October 1999). "Engaging the unmotivated in treatment for alcohol problems: a comparison of three strategies for intervention through family members". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 67 (5): 688–697. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.67.5.688. ISSN 0022-006X. PMID 10535235. 
  19. ^ Meyers, RJ; Miller, WR; Smith, JE, Tonigan, JS (October 2002). "A randomised trail of two methods for engaging treatment-refusing drug users through concerned significant others (CSOs)". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 70 (5): 1182–1185. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.70.5.1182. ISSN 0022-006X. PMID 12362968. 
  20. ^ a b Al-Anon Family Groups (2007). "Member Survey Results, Al-Anon Family Groups, Fall 2006". www.al-anon.alateen.org. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. pp. 2–5. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  21. ^ Al-Anon Family Groups. "Survey among Alateen members, Fall 2006". www.al-anon.alateen.org. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  22. ^ a b "The Twelve Traditions". Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  23. ^ http://al-anon.org/members/pdf/p2427/P24.pdf
  24. ^ In keeping with Al-Anon’s structure, only Group Representatives can vote on issues and officers here too.
  25. ^ http://al-anon.org/members/pdf/p2427/P24.pdf
  26. ^ a b "General Warranties of the Conference". Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  27. ^ "The Twelve Concepts of Service". Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kirby, K. C., Marlowe, D. B., Festinger, D. S., Garvey, K. A., & LaMonaca, V. (August 1999). "Community reinforcement training for family and significant others of drug abusers: A unilateral intervention to increase treatment entry of drug users". Drug and Alcohol Dependence 56 (1): 85–96. doi:10.1016/S0376-8716(99)00022-8. PMID 10462097. 
  • Rychtarik, R. G., & McGillicuddy, N. B. (April 2005). "Coping Skills Training and 12-Step Facilitation for Women Whose Partner Has Alcoholism: Effects on Depression, the Partner's Drinking, and Partner Physical Violence". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 73 (2): 249–261. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.73.2.249. PMID 15796632. 
  • White, W. (2007). "Review of The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is not Enough". Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 24 (4): 159–162. doi:10.1300/J020v24n04_10. 
  • Meyers, R. J., Apodaca, T. R., Flicker, S. M., & Slesnick, N. (July 2002). "Evidence-based approaches for the treatment of substance abusers by involving family members". The Family Journal 10 (3): 281–288. doi:10.1177/10680702010003004. 
  • Zajdow, G. (April 1998). "Civil society, social capital and the Twelve Step group". Community, Work & Family 1 (1): 79–89. doi:10.1080/13668809808414699. 

External links[edit]