The Al-Anon (for adults) and Alateen (for teens) program is a Twelve Step program for the relatives and friends of alcoholics or someone who is or has been a problem drinker. It is not uncommon for potential newcomers to attend Al-Anon because someone they care about is dependent on both alcohol and drugs, or other types of support programs may not be available to them.

However, Al-Anon and Alateen focus on alcoholism and alcohol issues, not other substance abuse problems. Only concerns related to the impact of a relative or friend’s drinking and application of the Al-Anon/Alateen principles are discussed at Al-Anon/Alateen meetings and appear in Al-Anon/Alateen literature.

Al-Anon meetings are usually listed in print and online meeting schedules as “open” or “closed.” Anyone interested in Al-Anon may attend an open Al-Anon meeting. Closed Al-Anon meetings are for people who can identify that they are being or have been affected by a relative or friend’s drinking, or are already members of Al-Anon. All Alateen meetings are closed to adults so that younger family members can conduct their own meetings with only one or two adult Alateen Group Sponsors available for guidance.

It is appropriate to refer a patient, consumer, or client to Al-Anon when:

  1. They are being or have been affected by a problem drinker or alcoholic. It is possible that the relative or friend of the alcoholic or person abusing alcohol has a different relationship to the potential Al-Anon newcomer than the individual who is dependent upon drugs or other substances. However, person is still welcome to attend Al-Anon in instances such as this because someone else’s drinking has impacted his or her life.
  2. The drinker is dependent both upon alcohol and other substances. Individuals with this type of experience need to know that they will only hear the principles of the Al-Anon/Alateen program and experiences of members related to the impact of someone else’s drinking discussed at the meetings. Someone concerned about a relative or friend’s use of drugs may hear other members share that their loved one’s use of both alcohol and drugs. In this case, the newcomer can speak with the Al-Anon member before or after the Al-Anon or Alateen meeting, or personally contact the member on their own.
  3. Adults or younger family members who are uncertain whether or not they have been or are being impacted by someone else’s drinking. Newcomers or younger family members are encouraged to attend at least six Al-Anon or Alateen meetings before deciding whether or not Al-Anon or Alateen can be helpful to them because they are or have been affected by someone else’s drinking. It is also recommend to attend different Al-Anon or Alateen meetings because each group has its own characteristics and varied membership.

Local Al-Anon meeting information for most of the US and Canada is available on Al-Anon’s website, or by calling their toll free meeting information number, 888-4AL-ANON (888-425-2666), which is available from 8 am to 6 pm ET, Monday – Friday.