Al Anon and Alateen: Looking Beyond Addiction and at the People Affected

When the word addiction comes to mind, people tend to only think about the one that is sick. However, addiction is a family disease that affects not just the addict, but the person’s close family and friends.

In Georgia alone, seven out of ten people are affected by this disease. In a closely knit town like Newnan, there is no stranger to the negative outcome.

The ones with the disease themselves have treatment available from different sources. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have roughly one and a half thousand groups in Georgia alone, but is there treatment for the family and friends?

Fortunately there is treatment for the loved ones suffering from someone else’s addiction.
For many years people had the misconception groups regularly extended their services to an addict’s family and friends. Welcome to scene, Al Anon.

Al Anon and Alateen, a branch of Al Anon designed with teenagers in mind, were created to specifically help the family and friends of the addict or alcoholic. Both grew from AA, which was founded in 1935, and shortly thereafter, Al Anon was founded in 1951 with Alateen following later.

The founder of AA, Bill W., was an alcoholic himself. Generations of people confronting and facing the disease of alcoholism had taken a toll on his life, and no doctor seemed to be able to cure him. With help from his wife, Lois W., he was able to create the program that has since its founding grown into a worldwide initiative.

During those initial AA meetings, the family members tended to wait outside while their loved one was inside attending the meeting. After years of seeing the pain that was still left in many people waiting outside of those meetings, Lois W. and her friend Anne B. founded Al Anon.

Over the years, teens started to show up at these meetings for the close friends and family of addicts. Alateen was then formed to adjusted to the need of the teenagers who had started to attend Al Anon.

Since Al Anon was formed, it has helped many people who have one common problem and are looking for the same common solution, serenity.

When dealing with an alcoholic, it may be too much for some individuals to handle all on their own. Being able to detach from the disease without detaching from the person seems almost impossible, but it is not.

Finding serenity is a blessing that few can find already on their own, but once found, it is a gift that improves any life.

Every group that meets, as well as every member that attends, is protected by the confidentiality of the group. Names, faces, opinions and everything of the like is held in confidence, and anonymity is respected.

The people who attend these meetings may often feel like it is difficult to find someone in their day to day life that understands what they are going through.

Attending a group that both understands and shares that individual experience helps many develop friendships that have a special root in their hearts. These friendships have strong bonds that bring comfort rather than isolation.

There is also no cost to attend meetings. The only thing the people need to bring are themselves and yearning to make a difference in their life.

Al Anon welcomes all individuals from all walks of life to sit down together and share their perspectives as well as their experiences.

While there is no religious affiliation, the program encourages individuals to find greater meaning in their lives. Attendees arrive with different ideas, views and beliefs, but during meetings, they all share a common purpose.

For Al Anon, there are many groups around the area that can be located by searching online. Alateen is a smaller and still growing program in the area, and there is only one in the Newnan area.