AA and Al-anon as Recovery Support Groups

Alcohol addiction was my downfall and led me to not only let myself down but all of my family members as well. I’ve struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse for much of my adult life, and by the time I sought treatment at Pathfinders, I was willing to do anything to get my life back. My family suffered greatly as well until they discovered Al-Anon.

Having a drinking problem is one thing, being a full-blown alcoholic is a whole other world. I started drinking when I was in high school, and by the time I reached the legal drinking age, I was already suffering from serious alcohol abuse. My family had no idea what to do with me, and it tore them apart inside.

My first time going to Alcoholics Anonymous was scary, and I learned quickly about AlAnon vs AA. Going to any alcoholism support group for the first time is nerve-wracking. I didn’t want to feel judged. I initially started going to private meetings, but I was led to believe that group-based meetings would give me a lot of good perspective from others going through addiction treatment.

Keep reading if you too did not know about Al-anon vs AA, and if you or a loved one are struggling with substances and alcohol, you can find the same sort of help I did with Pathfinders Recovery.

What Can You Expect From Sober Support Groups

Although I expected to be judged, I had a completely opposite experience going to Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcohol addiction affects people from all walks of life. It doesn’t discriminate. I met people from all across the social spectrum. Going to AA meetings gave me the strength to speak up and share my story with others, no matter how awkward it was at first.

A typical AA meeting is fairly simple. You go around in a circle and discuss your alcohol problems. Going to AA meetings slowly gave me the confidence to open up about my substance abuse and also my mental health disorder. I’ve struggled my whole life with my mental health, which has led me to drug abuse and alcohol dependence.

AA focuses on what led you to where you are at and how you can avoid succumbing to alcohol use disorder. I first began going to open meetings, and once I joined the program, I switched it up between open meetings and closed meetings. Open meetings refer to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that are open to anybody. Closed meetings are for people who have been in the Alcoholics Anonymous program for a longer period of time.

Al Anon Meetings Vs AA Meetings

AA Meetings

There are many different types of AA groups. Your average Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is for the alcoholic. The main difference is that Al Anon meetings are directed specifically toward the family members of alcoholics. My substance abuse and alcohol use disorder put a great strain on my family members. My parents, siblings, and other family members were greatly affected to the point where they needed to seek treatment for themselves. Al-Anon gave me the space to deal with these issues.

We don’t often talk about the effects of drug addiction, and alcoholism on our family members. Substance use is a community issue. There are more people struggling than just the drug abuser themselves, everyone around them gets affected as well. Once my family began going to Al-Anon meetings, I could see the strain lifted off of them almost immediately.

They always questioned if my addiction was because of something they did wrong. This question tormented my parents especially. I had one family member in particular who was skeptical of support groups. They wanted to try and deal with it on their own. Once they began going to Al-Anon meetings, I noticed it was very beneficial for them in their own healing.

Treatment Programs For Family Members

It was vital for my family’s well-being that they attend Al-Anon meetings. As I began the process of going to regular meetings, so did they. The other Al-Anon members were extremely supportive and uplifting, much like they are in AA and NA meetings. It’s roughly the same concept across each group. The focus is on learning what you can do to apply the same principles that alcoholics use in their own treatment.

I was so much more driven to stop drinking permanently when I saw the work my own family was putting into their recovery. My drinking problem was something that I needed to fix on my own, but I was much more inspired to do so when I saw them putting in their own work.

Alcoholics Anonymous taught me that there is only one way to stop drinking. You must recognize that there is a higher power, and you yourself are powerless against your disease. The circumstances may differ from person to person, but that higher power aspect is a big part of recovery.

Although Alcoholics Anonymous is thought of as a faith-based program, you can benefit no matter what your religious affiliation is. The religious aspect may be part of it, but it doesn’t have to be the entire focus. AA refers to itself as ‘spiritual and not religious’ and there is truth to the fact you can define your own Higher Power in the program. The main objective of these support groups is to help you get better, however, that process may look.

Al Anon Support Groups And Other Meetings

The families of alcoholics suffer just as much as the alcoholic. My alcohol problems led my family members to a lot of their own problems. Stress, anxiety, you name it. My drinking problem affected everyone around me. It’s a very helpless feeling for families to watch a loved one suffer without knowing how to stop it.

Al Anon Support Groups

AA and Al-Anon make it possible for everyone to get better together. These days, the treatment options for the alcoholic and the family are abundant. AA is an international support group. AA and Al-Anon meetings seek to provide treatment programs to everybody affected by this disease. The two groups work in conjunction to offer support and recovery across all meetings.

When my family first began going to these Al-Anon meetings, it gave them the tools to better support me in my own recovery. I had to learn how to be self-supporting on my own, but having your family in your corner gives you the extra push that you need. A lot of alcoholics aren’t lucky enough to have family members rooting for them. I feel that my recovery from alcohol is directly related to my family going to Al-Anon meetings and knowing how to better deal with my addiction.

Continuing Support For Alcohol Recovery

Recovery from alcohol addiction is an ongoing process. There is no magic cure for addiction. There is a lot to be said about the term ‘one day at a time’. If you think you are cured at any point from your addiction, you certainly need to take personal inventory and be honest with yourself.

You can have all the support in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t recognize that your addiction is right there beneath the surface. In my experience, recovery is only possible if you work on it every day. It’s more than just going to support groups. You need the right attitude. If you attend a meeting or engage in support groups, you give yourself a much better chance.

Either way, there is work that is required outside the group setting. AA and Al-Anon meetings give you a great base from which to work, but you need to also be self-supporting. The great thing about AA and Al-Anon is there are no age or education requirements. If you are directly affected by addiction, you automatically qualify. There is no gatekeeping in these groups.

Recovery Through Al Anon Groups

My family greatly benefited from Al-Anon. Their recovery from my addiction has been very inspiring for me to watch. As they go through their own personal recovery, I do as well. Going through recovery together makes us push each other to be at our best every day. When I attend a meeting, I feel like I’m doing it’s mutually beneficial to all of us, and I know they feel the same way when they attend meetings.

Recovery Through Al Anon Groups

My addiction used to be a hush-hush situation in my family. It was always too painful to talk about. When you find the right support group such as AA and Al-Anon, you learn to talk about it without feeling shame. Al-Anon taught my family that they are not unique. Countless families deal with these issues and many of them benefit from Al-Anon. Unfortunately, some don’t ever take that leap and give al anon a shot.

Finding Your Path to Recovery

I’m proud to have such a supportive and encouraging family, and I certainly have Al-Anon to thank for that. These days there is much more support for families of addicts. Al-Anon groups make it possible for families to heal the right way. Everyone in my family learned from Al-Anon, and they try to put what they’ve learned into practice every day. It’s a wonderful thing to witness.

If you or a member of your family is struggling with alcohol and needs help, reaching out to Pathfinders is a solid first step. Give them a call and let them provide options, so that you or a person you love does not have to battle booze any longer. I know picking up the phone for treatment made a world of difference for me and my family, and it can for you and yours too!


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