We are glad you are considering seeking help in Al-Anon. These are just a few of the questions that people ask before going to their first Al-Anon meeting, or when they have only gone to a few meetings.
How will Al-Anon help me?
Many who come to Al-Anon/Alateen are in despair, feeling hopeless, unable to believe that things can ever change. We want our lives to be different, but nothing we have done has brought about change. We all come to Al-Anon because we want and need help.
In Al-Anon and Alateen, members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.
How do I find a meeting?
We are fortunate that the Tampa Bay area has many different meetings available on all different days at all different times. The meeting schedule for Hillsborough County can be found here. Information on meeting in a different area can be found by clicking on the links here.
We are fortunate to have a Newcomers Meeting in Tampa that will help you to get familiar with the Al-Anon program and decide if it is right for you. More information can be found on the meeting schedule here, or below.
|Carrollwood Thurs Night AFG
Newcomers & More
Grace Lutheran Church
3714 W Linebaugh Ave
|33618||(just north of Dale Mabry & Busch)|
Who are the members of Al-Anon and Alateen?
Al-Anon and Alateen members are people just like you and me–people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking. They are parents, children, spouses, partners, brothers, sisters, other family members, friends, employers, employees, and coworkers of alcoholics. No matter what our specific experience has been we share a common bond: we feel our lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.
Do I have to say anything at a meeting?
It is your choice to speak or not during the meetings. Newcomers are welcomed to meetings, usually provided with literature and a local meeting list, and invited to listen and learn. Some meetings offer beginners’ meetings, specifically for newcomers. Members are available to answer questions before or after the meetings.
Will anyone say I’ve been there?
One of the Al-Anon program’s basic principles is that of anonymity. Meetings are confidential, and we do not disclose whom we see or what we hear at meetings to anyone.
How much is this going to cost?
There are no dues or fees in Al-Anon and Alateen meetings. Most groups pass a basket for voluntary contributions. Members are asked to contribute what they can afford, so that the group can pay rent, provide literature, and offer support to local and worldwide service centers.
Is this a religious fellowship?
Al-Anon Family Groups is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. We avoid discussion of specific religious doctrine, and members of all faiths (or of none) are welcome. Our Twelve Steps ask us to find a “Power greater than ourselves” who can help us solve our problems and find serenity. Each member is free to define that power in his or her own way.
What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is widely recognized as a disease of compulsive drinking, which can be arrested, but not cured. It is a progressive illness, which will get only worse as long as the person continues to drink. Total abstinence from drinking is the only way to arrest the disease. Alcoholism affects the entire family; indeed, everyone who has contact with the alcoholic is affected. Unfortunately, the only person who can stop the alcoholic from drinking is the alcoholic himself or herself.
Who are alcoholics?
They could be anyone, from all backgrounds and walks of life. Over 95 percent of alcoholics have families, friends, and jobs. They may function fairly well, but some part of their life is suffering. Their drinking causes a continuing and growing problem in their lives, and the lives they touch.
How do alcoholics affect families and friends?
Alcoholism is a family disease. The disease affects all those who have a relationship with a problem drinker. Those of us closest to the alcoholic suffer the most, and those who care the most can easily get caught up in the behavior of another person. We react to the alcoholic’s behavior. We focus on them, what they do, where they are, how much they drink. We try to control their drinking for them. We take on the blame, guilt, and shame that really belong to the drinker. We can become as addicted to the alcoholic, as the alcoholic is to alcohol. We, too, can become ill.
I went to a meeting and I didn’t like it, the people didn’t give me the answers I was looking for.
Al-Anon meetings are all different. While they all share the same basic format, the people in each meeting are different, so your experience can be completely different at the same meeting on a different week, or at a different meeting altogether. We encourage you to try at least 6 different meetings before you decide whether Al-Anon is right for you. Also, if you have specific questions, most Al-Anon members are happy to speak with you one-on-one before or after the meeting.
Here are a few things to keep in mind at your first meeting
Al‑Anon is a mutual support group. Everyone at the meeting shares as an equal. No one is in a position to give advice or direction to anyone else. Everyone at the meeting has experienced a problem with someone else’s drinking.
You are free to ask questions or to talk about your situation at your first meeting. If you’d rather just listen, you can say “I pass,” or explain that you’d just like to listen.
Every meeting is different. Each meeting has the autonomy to be run as its members choose, within guidelines designed to promote Al‑Anon unity. Al‑Anon recommends that you try at least six different meetings before you decide if Al‑Anon will be helpful to you.
Al‑Anon is not a religious program. Even when the meeting is held in a religious center, the local Al‑Anon group pays rent to that center and is not affiliated in any way with any religious group. Your religious beliefs—or lack of them—are not a subject for discussion at Al‑Anon meetings, which focus solely on coping with the effects of someone’s drinking.
It will take some time to fully understand the significance of anonymity to the Al‑Anon program. But at its simplest level, anonymity means that the people in the room will respect the confidentiality of what you say and won’t approach you outside the room in a way that compromises your privacy or the privacy of anyone who attended an Al‑Anon meeting.
The meeting will likely begin with a reading of the Twelve Steps of Al‑Anon. It will take some time to fully understand how the Twelve Steps can be a helpful tool in recovering from the effects of someone’s drinking. But Al‑Anon gives you the opportunity to grow at your own pace.