For Families and Friends Affected by Alcoholism
Al-Anon meetings are free, anonymous and confidential. If you have been affected by someone's drinking, you are welcome to attend any meeting without an appointment or invitation. A volunteer will lead the meeting. They typically choose a topic for discussion and members can share if they choose. Members can share as much or as little as they are comfortable with. It is common for members to become emotional during a share. Newcomers may be offered literature or phone numbers of other members at their first meeting, but there is no obligation to call.
Those affected by addiction
A 2018 Membership Survey found that 35% of Al-Anon members came to our program specifically because of someone's use of drugs. The survey also showed that 78% of these members
eventually came to realize that someone else's drinking had also affected their lives.
We encourage you to try Al-Anon if you think it may help.
Anonymity is a key principle of the Al-Anon program. All members are encouraged to hold in confidence everything they hear at a meeting or from another member.
All members are encouraged to find a group that they feel comfortable with. There are over 100 meetings in Maine. Some are day-time meetings, others meet at night. We encourage you to attend six meetings before deciding if Al-Anon is right for you. Beginner meetings are available for newcomers. It is not a requirement to attend a Beginners Meeting, but their sole focus is that of the newcomer, answering questions and introducing the basic ideas of the program.
Members share what it's like living with alcoholism
Members share how meetings help
Spiritual vs Religious
Al-Anon is a spiritual program, which means members are encouraged to develop a relationship with a Higher Power of their choosing.
Al-Anon is not a religious program. It is not affiliated with any religion. While some groups may meet at churches, Al-Anon does not support or endorse any faith or denomination.
Let Go and Let God
The 'Let God and Let God' slogan helped me to stop the madness going on in my head. It didn't mean that I couldn't let go of my responsibilities but helped me to do the foot work and let go of the outcome. I know now what great peace of mind I can have when I realize what I can control and what I can't. I know now that God is in charge, not me.
Letting go isn't always easy because sometimes I still think I can control an outcome, After a while, though, when it's just not working, I know at that point I need to let go and I'm still surprised at how far better God's will is than mine.
Let It Begin With Me
When I first started attending Al-Anon meetings I was afraid to speak for fear of sounding stupid. (My mother had gone to AA meetings and told me she never said a word. Soon after she stopped going to AA and she found herself in yet another treatment center.)
After several weeks I realized the members of my group who spoke seemed to be happier than the members who 'passed' and did not speak. Somehow I gathered up the courage to speak. Wow - no one called me 'stupid', no one laughed at me. Instead people said "We're glad you are here".
On the way home that night I realized that I did feel a little better. I have never been a big talker and my sharing is not long-winded but I make a point to share every time for my own well-being, never expecting that what I have to say may help someone else. The first time I heard that my sharing of my experience helped someone, I felt like I was on a pink cloud. Now I listen closely to people in and out of meetings, hoping that I can spread some serenity by giving it away. I feel at times I have to get out of my comfort zone to move on.
If a shy person like me can speak, so can you, so let it begin with me.
The Serenity Prayer
The Serenity Prayer is one of the most important tools of my recovery. When I first came into Al-Anon, I learned first "God, Grant me the Serenity" - yes, I wanted serenity- then, "to accept the things I can not change". I wasn't sure at first what I could or could not change but I was willing to learn, and finally "The courage to change the things I can" and most importantly "the wisdom to know the difference". I learned to recite this prayer when I was in a crisis, or in a difficult situation, and it helped me to slow down and think.
Today I say the Serenity Prayer on my drive to work every morning, then I add "God, let me know what you want me to do today, and give me the courage to do it". I try to be open to hear God's will for me. The Serenity Prayer reminds me that the Gift of Serenity is there for me if I choose it. I can decide what I have the ability to change or not, and that I can ask for help and wisdom to know what to do.
the meeting went on, I started to hear comforting words and phrases that I took with me. Members shared how they kept their lives simple while living with the disease of alcoholism. I saw the calmness and peace in their faces and I wanted what they had.
Keep It Simple
At my very first Al-Anon meeting the topic was "Keep It Simple". I remember sitting there feeling disappointed about Al-Anon because it was not what I thought the meeting would be about.
As the meeting went on, I started to hear comforting words and phrases that I took with me. Members shared how they kept their lives simple while living with the disease of alcoholism. I saw the calmness and peace in their faces and I wanted what they had.
As I moved through recovery in the Al-Anon program, I had learned to Keep It Simple and not to take life so seriously. I learned about choices that I have and became grateful for the tools I was so freely given. Most of all, I will always remember my first meeting on the topic of 'Keep It Simple' and a new outlook on life.
My First Meeting
When I first started attending Al-Anon meetings, it was like a whole different world. The language used was foreign to me and letting people talk without interruption was something I had never experienced. I did not speak for a long time and that was OK. Nobody told me I had to speak or leave.
I listened a lot and asked questions. It was very helpful for me when I started attending a Step/Tradition meeting. The Twelve Step book had three parts to every Step and Tradition. The story part helped me the most. If I did not understand the reading, the story helped put it in a way I could identify with.
The other part I did not understand was the laughter. When I would feel like crying, others were laughing. It took awhile, but I learned to laugh and now when a newcomer comes in I try to tell him or her my experience with the language, the laughter and the format.
It is all very different from anything I had experienced and I am so very glad to have walked through the door of my first meeting so many years ago.
Shares from Maine Al-Anon members
One Day At A Time
One day at a time is how I get through every part of my life. My meetings have allowed me to take each new day when I wake up as a gift. I start on the ride to school with my son and we each say what we are grateful for. I am able to say I am sorry when I have had a slip and have lost my temper with him. The greatest gift is that each moment is an opportunity to be the person I really want to be. I share with my son about 'HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired" and if perhaps I hadn't used that tool this time, but I also tell him when I am using it. It helps the whole family to recognize those feelings and to act on them in appropriate ways by eating, napping, leaving the room, calling an Al-Anon or Alateen friend. Daily readers almost always give me something to work on and I find my Higher Power through reading and listening to the people in my group share. Just for today I am still with my husband and I am able to find joy. I appreciate my son and the time I have with him. I have found hope, joy, peace and friendship. I am learning unconditional love my myself, my alcoholic and my children.
Steps and Traditions Again?
At first I felt impatient as to why at every meeting I went to they kept reading the Step and Traditions. 'Geez, didn't they know I just wanted to get "to the meeting part, the part I was there for??!!"' As I got better and really started to apply the Steps and Traditions I realized how important it was to open the meetings with the Steps and Traditions. All those years of hearing messages from the alcoholic needed to be replaced with having these new messages - every meeting, every week.
Now that I have been in a while I have learned to cherish the start of the meeting as I know how important it is to keep the Al-Anon message for the newcomer just the way it has always been and has always worked and to know and to note '...the Power of the very words.'
The First Step
The first time I went to Al-Anon, I was not ready to hear the hope of recovery. I still wanted to control the alcoholic and thought that by learning more about the disease of alcoholism, I could have that control. So I went to six meetings, hoping to hear how I could fix him. When I was never told how to do that, I did not go back to the seventh meeting. I was confused.
I remember hearing about detaching with love. I could detach, but with resentment and conditions. I was more and more feeling out of control. I remembered the laughter and peace I felt with the Al-Anon group. So, I returned to find out how someone could have such peace and serenity.
I was ready to listen.
I realized my life had become unmanageable and broken and I needed to work on me. I finally started to let go. I now have a relationship with a Higher Power that I trust and one that does not judge, to which I can bring my fear and confusion.
I am no longer alone and I am learning peace and serenity one day at a time. I still have days where I awaken feeling less than, and I struggle, but I have a group I can go to and feel their strength and know I am enough. I have a sponsor and other members I can call.
I feel blessed to have found this fellowship of AFG.
Let Go and Let God
Where I am in my life right now I have to remember this slogan more and more. I want to control my family and make them perfect - but I also realize that it can not happen - at least that way. When I get to "that place" I take a break - THINK - and then Let Go and Let God.
My son is going through some bad stuff right now, mostly anger, and after talking to a family counselor I realize that I have to finally admit to myself that I cannot fix the problem. I need help. My son needs help. So I keep going back to that slogan, Let Go and Let God. It's not easy to admit that I can't fix it when I know that his life would be so much better if he would just admit his problem. I found help and I hope that some day he does too.
These writings are from Maine Area Al-Anon and Alateen members who share their experience, strength and hope on various topics. Sharings will be changed periodically. If you would like to contribute, please email your sharing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and enjoy!