Addiction Coping and Recovery Methods and Support Al-Anon and Alateen Programs History and Philosophy of the Family Support Fellowship By Buddy T Buddy T Facebook Twitter Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 08, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Izabela Habur / Getty Images Al-Anon and Alateen are two programs that are part of a worldwide fellowship which offers support to families of alcoholics. Al-Anon is designed to help spouses, parents, siblings, and other family members, while Alateen is geared specifically toward younger people living with an alcoholic. Both groups are based on a spiritual, non-religious ethos from which members derive insight from being part of a collective (as opposed to engaging in one-on-one support). While many people turn to Al-Anon and Alateen for help with a loved one's drinking problems, neither are intervention programs. Rather, they recognize that people living with an alcoholic can be traumatized and focus their efforts on caring for those individuals' needs. As with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon and Alateen are closely based on a 12-step model (known, aptly, as the Twelve Steps) which is designed as a "tool for spiritual growth." History of Al-Anon and Alateen As early as 1939, families began to attend AA meetings along with their alcoholic family members. By actively engaging in the Twelve Steps, many of these people began to see the benefits of incorporating the principles into their own lives and family dynamics. Over time, some of these family groups formed their own independent meetings. In 1948, several of these groups applied to the AA General Service Office to be listed in the member directory. After being denied inclusion, Lois W. (wife of AA co-founder Bill W.) and Anne B., a close family friend, decided to create a committee to help coordinate and service these independent groups. In 1951, Al-Anon was officially established with 56 member groups across the continental United States. They chose the name from the first syllables of "Alcoholics Anonymous" and, in keeping with the founding principles, adopted the Twelve Steps (and later the Twelve Traditions) in a slightly modified form. The first Alateen meetings, meanwhile, were established in 1957 specifically for members between the ages of 12 and 19. While functioning on their own, these groups are facilitated by an adult Al-Anon member, called a sponsor. Al-Anon and Alateen Twelve Steps The Al-Anon and Alateen Twelve Steps are closely aligned to those of AA. The basic principle of the model is that people can help heal each other but only if they surrender to a higher power. While the Twelve Steps can be a force for good in families who are suffering, there are those who struggle with the spiritual, quasi-religious, male-centric premise of the program. For individual who don't feel comfortable with the spiritual elements of the Al-Anon and Alateen Twelve Steps programs, there are alternatives to the 12-step methodology which do not rely on the concept of a "higher power." For those who embrace the Al-Anon and Alateen approach, the 12 steps are broken down as follows: Admitting that you are powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageableBelieving that a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanityMaking the decision to turn your will and life over to the care of God in whatever form that may beTaking a fearless moral inventory of yourselfAdmitting to God, yourself, and others of the exact nature of your wrongdoingsBeing ready to have God remove these defects from your characterActively asking God to remove these defectsMaking a list of all those you have harmed and being willing to make amendsMaking amends wherever possible (except when doing so would cause harm)Continuing to take a moral inventory of yourself and admitting when you are wrongSeeking to improve your connection with God and to pray for knowledge and the power to carry out God's willCarrying these message to others and practicing these principles in your daily life 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. The Twelve Steps. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Al-Anon Timeline. Additional Reading Timko C, Cronkite R, Kaskutas LA, Laudet A, Roth J, Moos RH. Al-anon family groups: newcomers and members. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2013;74(6):965-976. doi:10.15288/jsad.2013.74.965 Timko C, Young LB, Moos RH. Al-anon family groups: origins, conceptual basis, outcomes, and research opportunities. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery. 2012;7(2-4):279-296. doi:10.1080/1556035X.2012.705713 By Buddy T Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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