Most of the Al Anon family group meetings are thematic discussion meetings. This means that the person who leads the meeting, the chairperson, chooses a topic related to the experience of dealing with a friend or family member who has a problem with alcoholism. Sometimes the chairman asks the group if anyone has a topic that the group should discuss.
After a topic is selected, those attending the meeting can share their experiences, strengths, and hopes related to that particular topic.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction problems, contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Authority (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
Topics for meetings
Below are some of the topics that seem most interesting to newbies to Al-Anon family groups, or who want to learn more about the program and learn how to deal with their friends or relatives with an alcohol use disorder.
How did you learn to tell the difference between things you can change and things you can’t about life with an alcoholic? Discuss what it means to you to accept that you are powerless over alcohol.
Alcoholism as a disease
Accepting alcoholism as a disease can help you understand how the alcoholic goes cycle after cycle by renouncing alcohol but returning to his same habit days later. Discover this topic.
Dealing with anger
You may get mixed messages about anger in your household. Are you told to control your anger but allow others in the family to explode violently? At Al-Anon you will learn that anger is a natural and normal emotion. Being angry is okay, it’s what you do with the anger that makes a difference.
The opening statement of the Al-Anon meeting said: “So much depends on our own attitudes, and when we learn to put our problem in its true perspective, we lose its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.” Which attitude dominates your life?
Dealing with change
The principles you learn in Al-Anon family groups can help deal with change as it occurs in life – sometimes big changes. You may not be able to change the circumstances, but you can change your attitude towards the situation.
You have the choice. You have to accept the things that you cannot change. You don’t have to accept unacceptable behavior. You have the right to make decisions that are in your best interests – to choose not to use alcoholic behavior and to stay away from fights and arguments. And to decide not to participate in the madness of others anymore. Have you found the courage to make such decisions?
Do you have control problems? As you step in and try to solve problems for others, you are robbing them of the dignity to make their own mistakes and to learn from them. Are you learning to “let go and let go of God”?
Courage to change
Courage to change is not a matter of course for those who grew up in alcoholic homes. You may have felt comfortable in relationships that weren’t just not healthy, but downright sick. In order for all of this to change, you have to seek outside courage.
Dealing with crises
Are you able to deal with big crises but get crazy from the small, everyday crises?
Are you frustrated by the apparent rejection of a loved one with an alcohol use disorder who will not admit that their behavior causes problems, harms, and destroys others? Have you learned that it is not your job to convince this person that they are denying and leave it to a power greater than you?
Learning how to loosen up can be difficult. If the person with an alcohol use disorder gets into crisis, do you want to hurry up and save the day? This can be just the opposite of what you should be doing to get that person to seek help.
Some of the things that you will do to help the person with an alcohol disorder are the very things that will enable that person to continue the dysfunctional behavior.
When dealing with your loved one with an alcohol use disorder, are your expectations at all reasonable? You can expect disappointment and frustration until you learn to adjust your expectations closer to reality.
Emptiness is the loneliness that comes with living and trying to love someone who just wasn’t “there”. Someone who only cares about alcohol. Have you tried to fill that void with anything less than healthy?
A family disease
You may have come to Al-Anon thinking that the person with an alcohol use disorder was the only one displaying insane behavior. However, if you focus on yourself, you may find that some of your behaviors and thoughts become unbalanced as well. That’s why they call alcoholism a family disease.
Fear of leaving
Are you afraid or even afraid of being alone or abandoned? Are you struggling to hold onto a relationship, no matter how unhealthy or harmful it is, because you are afraid of never having one again?
Focus on us
One of Al-Anon’s 12 traditions is that we have no opinion on external issues. Another person’s drinking or behavior is an external problem. How do you focus on your spiritual journey of recovery rather than other people’s behavior?
It seems to be one of those “spiritual truths” that you must first forgive before you can be forgiven. It seems like the way God always does, putting the ball in your field and waiting for you to take the first step. God does not ask that you “feel” like forgiveness, only that you forgive. That way, by taking that first step and just faking it until you balance it, God is able to do it give you a forgiving heart.
Do you feel sorry for yourself? One suggestion is to sit down and write a gratitude list. It’s amazing how this really works to drive away the darkness.
Grow every day
Do you work on your Al-Anon program every day? Do you see how you progress with it, or at least prevent the worst of backward slides?
Are you struggling with the honest part of the program? After years of covering up and keeping it secret, it can be difficult to be open and honest.
Keep it simple
It may sound like a mundane saying, but there is a lot of wisdom in suggesting that we keep it simple.
Let go and let God
Do you practice the principle of letting go and letting go of God in relation to life with an alcoholic, but also in dealing with many other things?
Live and let live
Learning that it’s okay to live your life without revolving around an alcoholic can be uncharted territory. How can you learn to live and let live?
Take care of you
If you take care of yourself and address your problems first, you will not add as much to the chaos and confusion. The person with an alcohol use disorder may stop responding to your efforts to control them. You won’t stop them from drinking, but your situation and attitude will change.
Mind your own business
With Al-Anon, it is none of your business if someone else drinks Not responsible for someone else’s decisions. The shame and embarrassment caused by their behavior are not yours, they are theirs. If they choose to make decisions that are “bad” for them, it is not a reflection of how good a parent, friend, spouse, or sponsor you are.
They have the right to make their own mistakes and hopefully learn from them. You can only do your part right, share your experience, strength, and hope when it is appropriate.
One day at a time
The tagline “one day at a time” sounds like another one of those mundane sayings that are overused, but it really is a lot of wisdom to remember not to live in the past or project the future, but to deal with the To deal with here and now.
You may have come to Al-Anon and never thought that you were powerless, that there was something you could do to wake the alcoholic up and eventually admit that there was a problem. Step 1 admits that you are powerless over alcohol.
Dealing with rejection
Are you struggling to deal with rejection in any form? Do you need to find a way to resolve any disagreements?
Restoring mental health
Step 2 says that we believe that a force greater than ourselves can make us healthy again. Have you accepted that you are crazy and that you need this help? Or do you still claim that only the alcoholic is the crazy one?
Are you struggling with confidence or feeling like you really belong?
You can become addicted to excitement when living with someone with an alcohol use disorder. Crises, problems, grief, abuse, chaos, anything but boredom. How can you accept the gift of serenity?
Confidence is a problem when you first come to Al-Anon. All the lies, the betrayal, and the secrets can leave your heart broken and hardened. Have you started learning to trust yourself and others?
Understanding and encouragement
Part of Al-Anon’s primary purpose is to “offer understanding and encouragement” to loved ones with an alcohol use disorder:
Unreasonable without knowing it
The opening statement of the Al-Anon meeting stated: “Trying to force solutions to our thinking becomes distorted and we become irritable and unreasonable without knowing it.” Can you really get unreasonable and not even know?
Dealing with Verbal Abuse
Difficult to resolve when the “disease” is screaming on your face! When the person with an alcohol use disorder accuses, curses, rages, dominates, manipulates or controls, this makes “detachment with love” seem almost impossible. How did you learn to break up during these episodes?