Al-Anon is a 12-step program meant to help families and friends recover from the effects of a loved one’s addiction to alcohol by providing support and guidance. The Al-Anon organization was founded in 1951 by Lois Wilson, the wife of Bill Wilson, who had founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 16 years prior.

Al-Anon treats alcoholism as a family illness, since it has a negative impact on the drinker, as well as on those around them. Some family members blame themselves for their loved one’s drinking or may not understand why recovery is a priority for their loved one. Meetings with family members tackle these issues and help them better understand alcoholism as an issue that affects the whole family. There are also specific groups called Alateen, which are catered to young people who are affected by alcoholism in their family. Their meetings allow young people to meet others their own age, making the experiences more relatable and overall more beneficial.


The meetings are directed at anyone who is affected by someone else’s drinking. If you have concerns about someone’s drinking habits or if they affect you personally, Al-Anon can help.

Some people are hesitant when attending their first meeting because they don’t know what to expect. Here are a few things to remember when considering attending a meeting:

  • Al-Anon is completely anonymous.
  • Everyone there has been affected by alcoholism in one way or another, whether personally or through a family member.
  • No one is required to participate in the conversation and share their experiences, but it is encouraged.
  • Al-Anon is not a religiously-based organization.
  • Meetings are centered on Al-Anon’s 12-step program.
  • Meetings are focused on sharing experiences and challenges faced rather than telling attendees what they should do.