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Al-Anon defines itself as an independent fellowship with the stated purpose of helping relatives and friends of alcoholics. According to the organization, alcoholism is a family illness. Its “Preamble to the Twelve Steps” provides a general description:
The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.
Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization, or institution; does not engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause. There are no dues for membership. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.
Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.
Not an intervention program, Al-Anon does not have the stated primary purpose of arresting another’s compulsive drinking. Members meet in groups. Meetings are usually small (five to twenty-five); in larger meetings, members often split into smaller groups after the opening readings so everyone has a chance to speak.
Many Al-Anon family group meetings begin with the “Suggested Al-Anon/Alateen Welcome,” which starts:
“We welcome you to the [Name of Group] Al-Anon Family Group and hope you will find in this fellowship the help and friendship we have been privileged to enjoy. We who live, or have lived, with the problem of alcoholism understand as perhaps few others can. We, too, were lonely and frustrated, but in Al-Anon we discover that no situation is really hopeless, and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.”