Frequently Asked Questions

What happens at a meeting?

Each meeting is chaired by one of the group's members, usually a different member each week. The Chairperson will have chosen a topic, but members are free to say what is in their minds and hearts when asked to speak. Much helpful information is gained by listening to others' experiences, and sharing how each applies the tools of the Al-Anon program.

Who are the group members?

Al-Anon has thousands of members from every walk of life. No matter what your relationship to the alcoholic, you will find someone else in a similar situation. We all have husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandparents, great grandparents or close friends who are alcoholics. We all share a common bond: to heal from the effects of another person’s drinking.

Where are meetings held?

Meetings are held at local schools, churches and hospitals. There are meetings 7 days a week, both day and night. Meetings offer a safe place where people can come and talk about dealing with the effects of alcoholism in a friend or loved one.

How are meetings set up?

All meetings start at a specific time; most last about an hour and a half, with perhaps another half hour for refreshments and a chat. You can come into a meeting or leave any time you choose. Many members come early to greet newcomers and talk to friends, and stay after the meeting to socialize and answer questions. Newcomers are given a list of local meetings and a sample of Al-Anon literature (which has lots of useful information about dealing with alcoholism in a relative or close friend), plus a list of phone numbers of members in the group for contact between meetings if help is needed.

Do I have to say anything?

Talking at a meeting is your choice. You do not have to speak, but many newcomers have found it helpful to finally share with others what has been going on and how someone else’s drinking is affecting them. You are sharing in a safe place where your anonymity and privacy will be respected. You talk only when you feel ready to share. Sometimes newcomers like to talk privately with one or two Al-Anon members before or after a meeting. Whatever you feel comfortable with is OK by us.

What is discussed at meetings?

In general, each week there is a different topic discussed at a meeting. The topics chosen help us to: get in touch with our feelings, detach from the alcoholic, stop feeling like we’re always the victim, set boundaries with others, identify abuse, get rid of our anger and deal with our resentments. Such topics also help us to: have healthy relationships with others, raise our self-esteem, face our fears, and deal with our anxiety and depression.

How will a meeting help me?

As individuals around the room share on topics and their own situations, you may hear a little about yourself in their stories. While you may not identify with everything, but in general you will hear others talk about what you may be feeling. Listening to someone else has helped many of us learn about ourselves. Please attend six meetings so you can decide if Al-Anon is for you. It's important to find somewhere you feel comfortable, so if one meeting does not feel right for you we suggest you try others, as each meeting has its own style and personality.

Will anyone say I’ve been at the meeting?

We place a high importance on anonymity at all our meetings because this makes our meetings a safe place to share. We only go by first names. No one needs to know that you are attending meetings, unless you choose to tell them. What is said in the group, what you hear in the group, whom you see in the group, stays in the group. This is one way we protect our anonymity.