It’s not unusual to feel unsure about going to your first Al‑Anon meeting. Many long-time Al‑Anon members still remember how reluctant they were to go to that meeting. They felt vulnerable, at a difficult time in their lives. But they found understanding and support there, and were glad they went.
An Al-Anon member recalls what her first meeting was like.
Dear New Member,
Welcome! No matter how fearful you are, please don’t leave the meeting.
I was so scared to go to my first Al-Anon meeting. I had promised myself that I’d sit in the back of the room and not talk. But when I went into the meeting room, everyone was sitting around a table. The people were friendly and kind, although I was still uneasy.
Sure I cried at the meeting. That was because the members were expressing what I was feeling. The pain and disappointment of living with active alcoholism is unbearable alone.
After the meeting, which was an hour and a half, I received hugs before leaving with plenty of literature and members’ phone numbers. One member called me the next day and she soon became my Sponsor.
The most important message I took home after my first meeting was that I was powerless over alcohol and it wasn’t my fault that my husband drank so much. That was a big weight off my shoulders.
By Madeleine C., Quebec
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. Here’s how one Al‑Anon member found the “Higher Power” of his own understanding.
- 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.