al-anon meeting northern california

Meeting FAQ

Many who come to Al-Anon/Alateen are in despair, feeling hopeless, unable to believe that things can ever change. We want our lives to be different, but nothing we have done has brought about change. We all come to Al-Anon because we want and need help.

In Al-Anon and Alateen, members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

Al-Anon meetings are for anyone whose life has been affected by someone else’s drinking. If someone’s alcoholism is bothering you, please come to any “open” or “closed” meeting. “Closed” simply means it is closed to the curious, professionals (counselors, doctors, etc.) or students seeking information about Al-Anon, but don’t, themselves, have anyone in their family or friends whose alcoholism is bothering them. At Open meetings, Al-Anon members welcome visitors seeking information about Al-Anon such as professionals, students and others who wish to learn about Al-Anon Family Groups.

Alateen meetings are for teens, usually age 12-20, whose life has been affected by someone else’s drinking (usually their parents, guardians, siblings or friends) and are always closed, that is, open only to teens – no adults (except the sponsor) allowed. For your teen’s protection, Alateen abides by the NCWSA Requirement for Alateen Member Safety.

Al-Anon groups hold meetings in churches, schools, hospitals, treatment centers, clubs, and other civic buildings, any place where the groups can afford the rent. Groups pay their own way, and they are not affiliated with the owner or operator of the building at which they meet.

Everyone who believes that someone else’s drinking bothers them are encouraged to attend any Al-Anon meeting in this list. It is not necessary to believe that the person who drinks is an alcoholic, only that when he or she drinks, we react in a way that appears inappropriate. If someone else’s drinking bothers you, Al-Anon is there to help. Anyone who qualifies in this manner may attend any Al-Anon meeting. Alateen is an Al-Anon program for children in the teen years. Alateen has one or more adult sponsors who assist the teens. Because the teens need a place that is confidential, adults who are not sponsors do not attend an Alateen meeting unless the group gives explicit permission for that person to attend. For these purposes, all Alateen meetings are labeled “closed”. Any teen who qualifies in this manner may attend any Al-Anon meeting. Some Alateen meetings list ages lower than the teen years, allowing younger children to attend their meeting also. Many professionals in the medical, treatment, legal and judicial systems, students and others wish to learn about how Al-Anon may help their clients. Many Al-Anon meetings are open to the public and anyone who wishes to learn about Al-Anon or Alateen may attend any “open” Al-Anon meeting. Some Al-Anon meetings are also “closed”. If you are a professional, student or otherwise have an interest in finding out about Al-Anon and/or Alateen, please identify yourself to the meeting prior to its start and ask if you may attend.

When calling a phone number listed in the NCWSA directory, there are several ways that the phone is answered. In some cities or towns, an Al-Anon member or an answering service paid for by the groups personally answers the phone. For other cities and towns, the caller is greeted with a message from a voice mail system. Regardless of the manner of answering the phone, the members welcome you to listen for ways to find your first meeting. Your anonymity will be respected when you call. You may not be asked for your own name, phone number or address if speaking to an Al-Anon volunteer. But, if your call goes to a message service or voice mail system, you might be asked to leave your name, a phone number and sometimes your address. This allows someone to return your call to help you find that first meeting or to mail a schedule of meetings to you. Al-Anon’s volunteers do not mention alcoholism, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon or Alateen on the outside of mailing envelopes or in phone messages left for you.

Al-Anon meetings are open to anyone whose life has been affected by someone else’s drinking. Alateen meetings are open to children generally in the teen years, but they may also be available for children as young as five and as old as 20. Generally, when an Alateen member reaches the age of 20 or 21, the teen member is encouraged to attend Al-Anon meetings. Alateen group meetings are closed, that is, only Alateens (under the age of 21) and the Area-certified Alateen Group Sponsors may attend. NCWSA Requirements For Alateen Member Safety. Some groups also identify themselves with a focus. You will find groups focused for newcomers; other groups focus on a format, such as study groups for steps, traditions, concepts; others identify themselves with the focus on individuals, such as men, women, adult children, gay. Regardless of the format and focus, you are invited to attend a meeting, where you will learn more about how Al-Anon and/or Alateen might help you recover from the effects of the disease of alcoholism.

Groups are dependent on the voluntary contributions of its members. Members, potential members, visitors, professionals and other non-members are invited to attend meetings without regard to economic circumstances and are asked not to contribute unless they intend on becoming members. While members do contribute to the group’s expenses, even for them, contributions are voluntary.