FAQs about Groups and Meetings

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Who are the members?

Members come from all walks of life. They are wives, husbands, partners, sisters, brothers, children, parents, friends or colleagues of alcoholics. No matter what our relationship has been with a problem drinker, we share a common bond: we feel our lives have been deeply affected by another person's drinking.

Alateen is available for young people aged 12 - 17 who are affected by someone else's drinking, usually that of a parent.  If there isn't an Alateen meeting in your area, young people from 12 years old upwards are welcome in Al-Anon meetings.

If you are a young person looking for an Alateen meeting, please call our office on 020 7593 2070 and we will be happy to discuss possible options with you.

How will attending meetings help me?

Al-Anon works by members attending meetings, where you will hear about situations much like your own. Members help each other by sharing their own experience and how they have used the Al-Anon programme to change their attitudes and behaviour, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

How often do groups meet?

Usually once a week. We recommend attending about six meetings before you decide whether Al-Anon is for you. Meetings tend to last an hour and a half.

Do I have to speak?

No. You can just sit and listen.

Will anyone say they’ve seen me there?

We respect one another’s anonymity. We use first names only. Everything that is said is treated as confidential. We do not talk about the people we see or repeat what we have heard at meetings.

Is this some kind of religious organisation?

No. Ours is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. Members of any faith, or none at all, are welcome and we make it a point to avoid discussions of specific religious beliefs.

How much is this going to cost?

There are no fees to join. Meetings usually have a collection to pay the rent for the meeting place, to provide Al-Anon literature and to support services, both local and throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland. We contribute what we can afford.

If I want to go to a meeting, what do I do next?

You can find a group near you by going to Find your nearest meeting or you can phone the helpline where you will be given the meeting details.

What are Closed or Non-Restrictive meetings?

The term 'Closed Meeting' (non-restrictive) is used world-wide by Al-Anon.  All Al-Anon meetings conform to the tradition that the group welcomes anybody in the family - men, women and young people - whose lives have been affected by another's drinking.  All meetings in Al-Anon in the UK and Ireland are non-restrictive and open to anyone whose life has been affected by someone else’s drinking, regardless of how the group may wish to name itself.

What are Open Meetings?

Open meetings provide an opportunity for health professionals to attend and hear how families have experienced recovery from the effects of alcoholism in their lives. Click here for a list of Open meetings.

Can health workers and other professionals attend an Al-Anon meeting?

Some groups hold regular monthly or quarterly 'Open' meetings.  People working in the health or education fields may attend.  For a list of 'Open' meetings Click here

Does Al-Anon provide any other services?

We have a range of literature available for sale. You may find these pamphlets of particular help:

  • What Do You Do About the Alcoholic?
  • So You Love an Alcoholic
  • Alcoholism, The Family Disease
  • Understanding Ourselves and Alcoholism
  • How Can I Help My Children?
  • To the Mother and Father of an alcoholic
  • Does She Drink Too Much?
  • Al-Anon is for Men
  • Al-Anon Sharings from Adult Children
  • A Merry-Go-Round Named Denial
  • Al-Anon Family Groups Welcomes Gays and Lesbians
  • Al-Anon Sharings from Adult Children
  • Freedom from Despair