Al-Anon can often be a great source of hope and encouragement for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.
Not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon was founded as part of Al-Anon Family Groups in 1951 by Anne B. and Lois W.—wife of AA co-founder Bill W. Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship of people who need support from other families and friends of alcoholics who can help them recover from the effects of another person’s alcohol misuse.
If you have ever attended an Al-Anon meeting, you may have heard other members talk about “Al-Anon Promises.” Knowing what these promises are and how they relate to finding hope could enhance your overall experience with Al-Anon.
What Are Al-Anon Promises?
Al-Anon Promises are a set of oaths, or pledges, that outline what you can expect to get out of becoming an Al-Anon member and attending regular meetings. They are loosely based on the Twelve Steps of AA, which are a set of guiding principles AA members use to address and overcome their drinking problems so they can achieve sober, addiction-free lifestyles.
Al-Anon adopted the Twelve Steps of AA nearly word for word when it was founded. However, the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon are completely different from its Promises. Al-Anon says it does not feature “Promises” in its literature and does not make promises because the needs and situations of each Al-Anon member are unique and different.
Instead, Al-Anon focuses on offering its newcomers experience, strength, and hope intended to help them recover from another person’s drinking problem.
Though “Al-Anon Promises” are not officially included in Al-Anon literature, some Al-Anon groups may use them anyway. There may be times you attend an Al-Anon meeting to find that the Promises are included regularly as a discussion topic.
Why Do Some Al-Anon Groups Use These Promises?
It can be extremely difficult and stressful to deal with an alcoholic, especially if you live with an alcoholic, or that person is your spouse or partner. Some people may be so severely affected by a loved one’s drinking problem that they need all the hope and support they can get to feel better about themselves and to learn effective coping methods.
Taking this factor into consideration, some Al-Anon groups may use Promises to help their members feel more confident and hopeful about their recovery. Though using the Promises may go against the wishes of the World Service Conference (Al-Anon’s largest representative group conscience) and the Al-Anon Literature Committee, some groups feel there is no real harm in using them if they make members feel better about their situations.
If you do not feel comfortable about attending an Al-Anon group that uses the Promises, experiment with joining other Al-Anon groups in your area that follow the guidelines and practices outlined in Al-Anon’s official literature. Fortunately, Al-Anon meetings are widely available all over the United States, which makes it relatively easy to find a group that you enjoy and connect with.
What Are the Promises Used By Some Al-Anon Groups?
The “Al-Anon Promises” was initially published in a book called From Survival to Recovery: Growing Up in an Alcoholic Home, by Al-Anon Family Group Head Inc. They can be found on pages 269 to 270, under the section entitled, “The Al-Anon Gifts/Promises.”
These Promises are:
• If we willingly surrender ourselves to the spiritual discipline of the Twelve Steps, our lives will be transformed. We will become mature, responsible individuals with a great capacity for joy, fulfillment, and wonder.
• Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential.
• We will discover that we are worthy of love and loving. We will love others without losing ourselves and will learn to accept love in return.
• Our sight, once clouded and confused, will clear, and we will be able to perceive reality and recognize truth.
• Courage and fellowship will replace fear. We will be able to risk failure to develop new, hidden talents.
• Our lives, no matter how battered and degraded, will yield hope to share with others.
• We will begin to feel and will come to know the vastness of our emotions, but we will not be slaves to them.
• Our secrets will no longer bind us in shame.
• As we gain the ability to forgive ourselves, our families, and the world, our choices will expand.
• With dignity we will stand for ourselves, but not against our fellows.
• Serenity and peace will have meaning for us as we allow our lives and the lives of those we love to flow day by day with God’s ease, balance, and grace.
• No longer terrified, we will discover we are free to delight in life’s paradox, mystery, and awe.
• We will laugh more.
• Fear will be replaced by faith, and gratitude will come naturally as we realize that our Higher Power is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
What Are the Twelve Steps In Al-Anon?
The Twelve Steps of Al-Anon are principles that Al-Anon members can apply to their lives to achieve long-lasting recovery.
The Twelve Steps in Al-Anon are nearly identical to the Twelve Steps in AA, except the word “alcoholics” in some of the steps has been replaced with “others.” Many of these Twelve Steps refer to a “Power greater” than ourselves, which can be interpreted as any higher Power that provides you with spiritual guidance. Your Higher Power may be God, Mother Nature, the Universe, or someone in your life whom you admire and look to for inspiration.
What Are the Twelve Traditions In Al-Anon?
The Twelve Traditions in Al-Anon are a set of guidelines intended to promote harmony and growth among the members in Al-Anon groups, and in its worldwide fellowship. Al-Anon states that its unity depends upon individual and group adherence to the Twelve Traditions.
The Twelve Traditions of Al-Anon are:
- Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.
- For our group purpose, there is but one authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern.
- The relatives of alcoholics, when gathered together for mutual aid, may call themselves an Al-Anon Family Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.
- Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Al-Anon or AA as a whole.
- Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.
- Our Family Groups ought never to endorse, finance, or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim. Although a separate entity, we should always cooperate with AA.
- Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Al-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- Our groups, as such, ought never to be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- The Al-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues; hence our name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and TV. We need to guard with special care the anonymity of all AA members.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.
How Can Al-Anon Give Me Hope?
Al-Anon meetings are an ideal place to go if you need help coping or dealing with an alcoholic or someone in your life who has a drinking problem. At these meetings, you can listen to other members share stories about their experiences and strength and find the inspiration to develop your own strategies that bring you closer to healing and recovery.
You don’t necessarily need to rely on the “Al-Anon Promises” to gain hope about your situation. Your peers in Al-Anon and the fellowship itself can often make you feel more hopeful and confident about your ability to come out on top and find the strength you need to heal from the effects of another’s alcohol misuse.
Al-Anon meetings can give you hope by:
• Teaching you how to set boundaries with the drinker in your life.
• Teaching you how to stop being an enabler.
• Educating you more about alcohol use disorder and how it can affect one’s behavior, mental health, thought processes, priorities, etc.
• Giving you a strong, reliable support system.
• Showing you that you are not alone and that others are dealing with similar situations.
• Focusing on your struggles and how another’s drinking is affecting you, and not focusing on the drinker or the struggles of the drinker.
• Putting things into perspective by giving you a glimpse into the lives of others with similar problems.
• Providing you with useful tips and strategies on coping with another person’s drinking problem.
There are many other benefits to attending Al-Anon meetings, many of which you can discover and learn yourself by becoming an Al-Anon member.
How Do I Know If Al-Anon Is Right For Me?
Al-Anon can help anyone affected by another person’s alcohol use, even if that person is no longer drinking. Al-Anon may be right for you if you are still dealing with the aftermath of a person’s drinking problem, such as legal fees, physical assault, or a breakup. It may also be right for you if you currently live with someone who has a drinking problem or has a close relationship with someone who has a drinking problem.
Al-Anon is not for anyone who currently has a drinking problem or who seeks treatment for a drinking problem. Those individuals are encouraged to seek help through AA or an alcohol rehab center.
Al-Anon can benefit spouses and partners of people with drinking problems and parents of children with drinking problems. It can also benefit adult children of alcoholics still trying to overcome a past trauma from their childhoods. Al-Anon may benefit you if you live with a family member struggling with alcohol misuse.
Here are other signs you could benefit from an Al-Anon meeting:
• You are worried about the amount of alcohol someone in your life is drinking regularly.
• You are experiencing financial problems due to another person’s drinking problem.
• You find yourself telling lies to cover for someone who has a drinking problem.
• You have had to cancel plans so you can deal with someone else’s drinking problem.
• You have had to issue ultimatums to someone in your life who has a drinking problem.
• You have been hurt or embarrassed by someone in your life who has a drinking problem.
• You feel like a failure because someone close to you is suffering from a drinking problem.
If you are a child or teen affected by someone else’s drinking problem, you can become an Alateen member. Alateen is the youth equivalent of Al-Anon and allows you to network with other kids in your age group who may be facing similar problems as you.
Al-Anon and Alateen members do not have to pay fees to attend meetings, though both fellowships accept voluntary contributions to help pay for costs related to coffee, snacks, and office rent.
How Can I Find An Al-Anon Meeting?
An easy way to find an Al-Anon meeting in your area is to use the Find Support Groups website, which features a directory of many different support groups for people with addiction and behavioral conditions. Choose “Alanon Family” from the dropdown menu, then select your city and state to view a list of nearby meetings. Online Al-Anon meetings are also available for those who live in rural areas or who prefer to stay at home for matters of safety and convenience.