PCC 500 Al-Anon Family Groups: A 12 –Step Program for Friends and Families of Problem Drinkers

Faculty: Dr. Ann-Marie Neale (Profile)


The purpose of this course is to educate about and familiarize students with the 12- Step Program known as Al-Anon Family Groups (Al-Anon). Members of the clergy, such as pastors and chaplains, mental health counselors and others who are simply interested in learning more about this self-help recovery program will benefit from the e-course as they will likely encounter individuals who may be in need of such a program or who may already be attending meetings. Al-Anon’s primary purpose is to offer support to family and friends of people with alcohol problems; however, families and friends of individuals who are struggling with another type of addiction, mental illness, or problematic behavior may also attend these meetings. Its aim is to help spouses, parents, children, friends, and co-workers begin to focus on their own lives whether or not they continue in a relationship with their loved ones. The term “self-help” is misleading as Al-Anon’s success lies in the group support and shared experiences of its members.

Al-Anon unofficially began when early members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), attended meetings in the co-founder, Dr. Bob Smith’s home in Akron Ohio. Dr. Bob’s wife, Ann noticed that wives were sitting outside in cars waiting for their husbands. She began inviting them into her kitchen for tea and conversation. While Ann Smith did not live to see the birth of the official program known as Al-Anon; nevertheless, it was her thoughtfulness towards these women that was the catalyst for its inception. Lois Wilson, the wife of Bill Wilson, the other co-founder of AA, and other wives of the early members of AA were the early members of what is today known as Al-Anon Family Groups. This 12-Step Program continues to offer support, guidance and hope to countless thousands of individuals all over the world; however, this e-course is in no way an attempt to advocate for Al-Anon as a place for family and friends to seek help. It is a description of the program, its historical beginnings, how it works, and some of the reasons for its huge success and continued existence.

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