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Al-Anon Book Covers
Al-Anon/Alateen, known as Al-Anon Family Groups, is an international "fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems." They "help families of alcoholics by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic." Alateen is part of Al-Anon and is their Twelve-step program of recovery for young people affected by another's drinking, generally aged 13 to 19 years (varies depending on each group). "Alateen groups are sponsored by Al-Anon members." Al-Anon was formed in 1951 by Lois Wilson, wife of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill Wilson. She recognized the need for such an organization as family members living with AA members began to identify their own pathologies associated with their family members' alcoholism. In the USA, Al-Anon Family Groups incorporated as a 501(c) non-profit organization called Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Alateen took its own name and formation in 1957.
In Lois's Story, she explained why, as the spouse of an alcoholic, she also required treatment.
After a while I began to wonder why I was not as happy as I ought to be, since the one thing I had been yearning for all my married life [Bill's sobriety] had come to pass. Then one Sunday, Bill asked me if I was ready to go to the meeting with him. To my own astonishment as well as his, I burst forth with "Damn your old meetings!" and threw a shoe as hard as I could. This surprising display of temper over nothing pulled me up short and made me start to analyze my own attitudes. ... My life's purpose of sobering up Bill, which had made me feel desperately needed, had vanished. ... I decided to strive for my own spiritual growth. I used the same principles as he did to learn how to change my attitudes. ... We began to learn that ... the partner of the alcoholic also needed to live by a spiritual program. — Lois Wilson