Addiction Coping and Recovery Methods and Support Al-Anon Topics for Beginners Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope 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 September 17, 2020 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 moodboard / Getty Images Most Al-Anon Family Groups meetings are topic discussion meetings. This means the person who is leading 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 chairperson will ask the group if anyone has a topic they would like the group to discuss. After a topic is chosen, then those who are at the meeting can share their experience, strength, and hope regarding that specific topic. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Topics for Meetings Below are some of the topics that seem to be of most interest to those who are newcomers 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. Acceptance How have you learned to tell the difference between those things that you can change and those you can't regarding living with an alcoholic? Discuss what accepting that you are powerless over alcohol means to you. Alcoholism as a Disease Accepting alcoholism as a disease can help you understand how the alcoholic goes through cycle after cycle of swearing off alcohol but returning to their same habit days later. Explore that topic. Dealing With Anger You may get mixed messages about anger in your household. Are you told to control your anger but others in the family are allowed to explode violently? At Al-Anon, you 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. Changing Attitudes The Al-Anon meeting opening statement says, "So much depends on our own attitudes, and as we learn to place our problem in its true perspective we find it loses its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives." What attitude is dominating your life? Dealing With Change The principles you learn in Al-Anon Family Groups can help deal with changes as they come in life - sometimes major changes. You may not be able to change the circumstances any, but you can change your attitude about the situation. Choices You have choices. You have to accept the things you cannot change. You do not have to accept unacceptable behavior. You have the right to make decisions that are in your best interest—to decide not to be around alcoholic behavior and to walk away from fights and arguments. And to decide to no longer participate in the insanity of others. Have you found the courage to make those kinds of decisions? Control Issues Do you have control issues? If you step in and try to solve problems for others you rob them of the dignity of being able to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Are you learning to "let go and let God?" Courage to Change Courage to change is not something that comes naturally to those who grew up in alcoholic homes. You may have found yourself being comfortable in relationships that were not only not healthy but downright sick. In order for all that to change, you have to seek courage from an outside source. Dealing With Crises Are you able to deal with major crises but find yourself driven crazy by the small, everyday ones? Resources for Families of Alcoholics Denial Are you frustrated by the blatant denial of a loved one with an alcohol use disorder, who won't admit that their behavior is causing problems, damaging and destroying others? Have you learned that it isn't your job to convince that person they are in denial, turning that over to a power greater than yourself? Detachment Learning how to detach can be difficult. When the person with an alcohol use disorder gets into a crisis, do you want to rush in and save the day? This can be the exact opposite of what you should do to get that person to the point of reaching out for help. Enabling Some of the things that you do to try to help the person with an alcoholic use disorder are the very things that are enabling that individual to continue in the dysfunctional behavior. Are You Enabling an Alcoholic? Unreasonable Expectations Are your expectations not reasonable at all when you are dealing with your loved one with an alcohol use disorder? You may be setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration until you learn to adjust your expectations closer to reality. Emptiness Emptiness is the loneliness that comes with living with and trying to love someone who was just not "there." Someone who doesn't care about anything else but alcohol. Have you tried to fill that void with less than healthy things? A Family Disease You may have come to Al-Anon thinking the person with an alcohol use disorder was the only one who was exhibiting insane behavior. But when you focus on yourself, you may realize that some of your behavior and thinking are also off-kilter. That's why they call alcoholism a family disease. Fear of Abandonment Are you afraid or even terrified of being alone or abandoned? Do you go to any lengths to hold on to a relationship, no matter how unhealthy or harmful because you are afraid of not ever being able to have another one? Focus on Ourselves One of the 12 Traditions of Al-Anon states that we have no opinion on outside issues. Someone else's drinking or behavior is an outside issue. How do you keep the focus on your spiritual journey of recovery and not on anyone else's behavior? Forgiveness It seems to be one of those "spiritual truths" that before you can be forgiven, you must first forgive. That seems to be the way God always does it, puts the ball in your court and waits for you to make the first move. God does not require you to "feel" like forgiving, only that you forgive. By doing so, by taking that first step, even just faking it until you make it even, then God is able to give you a forgiving heart. Gratitude Do you find yourself feeling sorry for yourself? A suggestion is to sit down and write out a gratitude list. It is amazing how that really works to chase away the gloom. Growing One Day at a Time Do you work on your Al-Anon program every day? Do you see how that keeps you making progress, or at least prevents the worst backward slides? Honesty Do you have difficulty with the honesty part of the program? After years of covering up and keeping secrets, it can be hard to be open and honest. Keep It Simple It may sound like a trite saying, but there is a lot of wisdom in the suggestion to keep it simple. Let Go and Let God Are you practicing the principle of letting go and letting God in relation to living with an alcoholic, but also in dealing with many other things? Live and Let Live Learning it is okay to live your life without it revolving around an alcoholic can be new territory. How can you learn to live and let live? Looking After You When you start looking after yourself first and addressing your problems, you aren't contributing as much to the chaos and confusion. The person with an alcohol use disorder can stop reacting to your efforts to control them. You won't be stopping them from drinking, but your situation and attitude will be changed. Mind Your Own Business At Al-Anon, somebody else's drinking is none of your business, You are not responsible for someone else's choices. The shame and the embarrassment caused by their behavior doesn't belong to you, it belongs to them. If they decide to make choices that are "bad" for them, it is not a reflection on how good a parent, or friend, or 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's appropriate to do so. One Day at a Time The slogan "one day at a time" sounds like another one of those trite sayings that are overused, but there really is a lot of wisdom in reminding yourself to not live in the past or project the future, but deal with the here and now. Powerless You may have come to Al-Anon never once thinking you were powerless, that there was something you could do to cause the alcoholic to wake up and finally admit there was a problem. Step 1 is admitting you are powerless over alcohol. Dealing With Rejection Do you have difficulty handling rejection in any form? Do you have to find a way to fix any disagreement? Restoration to Sanity Step 2 says we came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Have you accepted that you are insane and need that help? Or do you still maintain that only the alcoholic is the crazy one? Self Esteem Do you have problems with self-confidence or feeling that you really belong? Serenity You can become addicted to excitement when you live with a person with an alcohol use disorder. Crises, problems, grief, abuse, chaos, anything but boredom. How can you accept the gift of serenity? Trust Trust is a problem when you first come into Al-Anon. All the lies, the betrayals, and the secrets can leave your heart broken and hardened. Have you begun to learn to trust yourself and others? Understanding and Encouragement Part of Al-Anon's primary purpose is to "offer understanding and encouragement" to your loved one with an alcohol use disorder: Unreasonable Without Knowing It It says in the Al-Anon meeting opening statement, "Our thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions, and we become irritable and unreasonable without knowing it." Can you really become unreasonable and not even know it? Dealing With Verbal Abuse It difficult it is to detach when the "disease" is in your face screaming! When the person with an alcohol use disorder is accusing, cursing, raging, dominating, manipulating, or controlling, it makes "detachment with love" seem almost impossible. How have you learned to detach during these episodes? How the Alcoholic Mindset Affects Families 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? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.