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Support groups are a vital part of recovery for addicts. However, individuals who are negatively impacted by a loved one’s alcohol addiction often require support of their own. Groups like Al-Anon focus on helping these individuals through peer support and the Twelve Step philosophy. Al-Anon and its teen-focused group Alateen can help loved ones of alcoholics feel less alone in their experiences and develop strategies to deal with conflict. Meetings are held in-person and online worldwide and are free to join.

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What Is Al-Anon?

Al-Anon is a self-supporting group for people who have been affected by a loved one’s alcoholism. Support groups like Al-Anon provide peer support and resources to family members and friends of alcoholics.

Al-Anon typically consists of frequent meetings with fellow loved ones of alcoholics and is led by peers or expert speakers. The purpose of Al-Anon meetings is to provide support for anyone whose life has been negatively impacted by problem drinking and alcoholism.

What Does Al-Anon Mean?

Al-Anon is derived from the term “Alcoholics Anonymous.” Al-Anon is a separate organization from Alcoholics Anonymous or AA, which instead focuses on peer support for recovering alcoholics. Al-Anon is also sometimes referred to as “Al-Anon Family Groups.”

How Does Al-Anon Work?

Al-Anon works by creating a safe, supportive environment for friends and families of alcoholics to gather and discuss the challenges they face. Many people who join Al-Anon feel hopeless and distressed about their situation.

Al-Anon meetings allow members to vent their raw feelings and find camaraderie with others in similar circumstances. They are typically led by a chosen “chair,” who keeps meetings and discussions on track.

Al-Anon uses a similar approach to AA, especially with its use of the Twelve Steps. While Al-Anon does not require members to belong to any particular religion or faith, the organization does take a spiritual approach that involves surrendering to a higher power.

What Is Alateen?

Alateen is a part of Al-Anon intended for teens affected by a loved one’s alcohol use. Like Al-Anon, Alateen is not for teen alcoholics but for young people who have been impacted by a friend or family member’s alcohol abuse.

What Makes Alateen Different from Al-Anon?

Al-Anon focuses on helping adults, while Alateen is only for young people, mainly teenagers. Alateen focuses on the unique struggles that young people face while trying to deal with the challenges of alcoholism in a loved one.

How Does Alateen Help Young People?

Alateen helps young people by focusing on the challenges unique to the teenage experience. Young people may struggle to process and cope with the effects of alcoholism in ways adults may not, as teens are still navigating the difficulties of transitioning into adulthood.

Meetings for Alateen members function very similarly to meetings for Al-Anon members. Attendees are encouraged to share their experiences in a safe space with other young people who face the same struggles.

Discussions often center on finding effective ways to cope with problems and offering support and understanding to one another. Alateen meetings also focus on the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions of Alateen and use them as guiding principles throughout the process.

Benefits of Al-Anon

Al-Anon can create a much-needed environment for loved ones to share their experiences, learn strategies to improve their lives, address problems, and find happiness despite the challenges of alcoholism.

Research supports the benefits of Al-Anon. According to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, Al-Anon newcomers who attended meetings for six months saw the following benefits:

  • Learning to handle problems due to the drinker
  • Increased well-being and functioning
  • Reduced verbal and physical abuse victimization
  • Better relationships with the drinker

Other benefits of Al-Anon include:

  • Acceptance of anger caused by drinking
  • Better adaptation to change
  • Learning how to avoid enabling
  • Addressing fears of abandonment
  • Finding forgiveness for the drinker
  • Dealing with rejection
  • Rebuilding trust
  • Deeper understanding of alcoholism as a disease
  • Building and reinforcing firm boundaries

What to Expect at an Al-Anon/Alateen Meeting

Al-Anon meetings typically resemble AA meetings for alcoholics. Attendees sit in a circle and are led by a chosen member who is the chair or leader of the meeting. Most sessions involve group discussion and sharing, but some focus on an expert speaker who gives a presentation.

The chair will begin by leading the group in a serenity prayer. This non-denominational prayer focuses on understanding the difference between circumstances that can and cannot be changed. The chair may also recite the Twelve Steps and Traditions to the group.

Meetings may vary in their focus and structure. The types of meetings you may encounter include:

  • Beginner meetings: These are meetings to welcome newcomers and teach them the basic principles of Al-Anon.
  • Closed meetings: Meetings for official Al-Anon members only.
  • Step meetings: These meetings focus on one of the Twelve Steps and help deepen one’s understanding of Al-Anon’s philosophies.
  • Speaker meetings: These are meetings where no one shares but the speaker, who may be a peer who shares their whole story or a subject-matter expert offering resources or insights.

How Can I Attend an Al-Anon/Alateen Meeting?

Al-Anon and Alateen group meetings are free and can be found worldwide. You can use Al-Anon’s meeting finder to see what Al-Anon groups exist in your area.

Virtual meetings are available if there are no groups in your area or you cannot attend in-person meetings.

Many countries have information service centers you can contact for more information or to start an Al-Anon group in your area if one doesn’t already exist.

Join an Al-Anon or Alateen Meeting

If you’re struggling with the challenges of a loved one who abuses alcohol, Al-Anon may be able to help you feel seen and supported. Al-Anon meetings are free, require no referral, and are available in person and virtually worldwide.

You can find information about local in-person meetings through Al-Anon’s meeting finder or about virtual meetings through Al-Anon’s Global Electronic Meeting list. Virtual meetings are available in video and phone formats.

If your loved one has still not sought treatment for their alcohol abuse, there are tools available to help you locate treatment centers in your area. You can use SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call 1-800-662-4357 to learn available treatment options.

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FAQs About Al-Anon

Where can I find Al-Anon meetings?

In-person Al-Anon meetings are typically held in local community spaces. Virtual options are available if there are no meetings in your area or you cannot attend in-person meetings. You can find Al-Anon meetings through their meeting finder or electronic meeting list.

Who is Al-Anon for?

Al-Anon is specifically for the friends and families of problem drinkers, regardless of whether the alcoholic actively drinks or is in recovery. The goal of Al-Anon is to support and uplift individuals who are negatively affected by the effects and consequences of alcohol abuse.

What is the difference between Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) focuses on support and recovery for people who have alcohol problems or alcohol use disorder. While AA also welcomes the loved ones of alcoholics, the primary focus is on recovery for the alcoholic.

Al-Anon, on the other hand, focuses on supporting the friends, children, parents, and family members of alcoholics. Al-Anon meetings provide a safe and welcoming place for these individuals to discuss the severe traumas and difficulties of having a loved one with alcohol use disorder.

How can Al-Anon help me?

Suppose you have a loved one who has an alcohol problem that has negatively affected your life. In that case, Al-Anon meetings can give you a place to voice your frustrations, fears, and experiences with others in similar situations.

Al-Anon can also help you develop strategies to cope with these feelings and improve relations with the drinker.

What is the age limit for Alateen?

Alateen meetings are intended for young people aged 13 to 18. Once a young person is over 18, they are allowed into Al-Anon meetings for adults.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Alateen Twelve Traditions: Al-Anon Family Groups. Al-Anon Family Groups. (2017, April 20).
  2. Timko, C., Halvorson, M., Kong, C., & Moos, R. H. (2015, December). Social Processes Explaining the Benefits of Al-Anon Participation. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors: Journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors.
  3. Timko, C., Laudet, A., & Moos, R. H. (2016, July). Al-Anon Newcomers: Benefits of Continuing Attendance for Six Months. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
  4. The Twelve Steps: Al-Anon Family Groups. Al-Anon Family Groups. (2020, December 31).
  5. What Is Al-Anon and Alateen and Are They Right for Me? Al-Anon Family Groups. (2018, December 3).

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