These groups were developed to help people struggling with addictions to drugs and alcohol overcome their problems. They do this by allowing addicts to open up to each other, which is not always an easy thing to do when you are addicted to an illegal substance.
These groups have become recognized as one of the most effective ways to manage to overcome a drug addiction. This is because one of the most important things for recovery is the ability to openly communicate and have a social support group. When people will not look at you twice once you tell them that you have a drug addiction, it can be extremely hard to find the support and the motivation to stop using drugs.
The families of the addicted
These groups are all fine and dandy for people suffering from addiction, but what about the families and loved ones of people with addictions? Addicts aren't the only people who suffer during their addiction. The people who care for them and love them often have to deal with a lot of negative experiences.
Just like it's difficult for people with addictions to seek help for their problems, it can be difficult for the families and loved ones of addicts to seek help. Taking care of somebody who is addicted to drugs is not always the easiest thing to admit, and it's not something that you would want to talk about in polite company. It’s not as socially accepted in some areas, or people might be worried about being judged or looked down on.
Many people have grown up with addicts in their families, and they may not even know what normal behavior is like. This can make it very difficult for them to actually seek help. The purpose of these groups is to make it easier for people struggling with taking care of their loved ones.
Do I need Al-Anon or Alateen?
These groups are never going to be mandatory, unlike Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous which are sometimes required as part of the completion for a rehabilitation program. No, these programs are entirely optional and exist only to help people overcome their problems or help others overcome their problems by offering and sharing advice.
As we have mentioned, it's not always easy to be aware that you need to seek support from somebody else. Reaching out and taking this first step requires someone to admit that their loved one is causing them serious problems. A lot of people simply cant do this out of love and compassion, but this isn't healthy.
Even if you don't think that you need a support group, it can't hurt to go and check one out. This will at least let you meet a whole bunch of other people who have experienced something similar to you. Even if you don't feel like you need help right now, you might be able to offer some advice or help somebody else get through their problem. These support groups are exactly that. They are not there for one person to take advice and leave, they are self-sustaining groups that continually help each member grow stronger.
The two groups are somewhat different.
Alateen is intended for the younger folk, teens and adolescents who have members of their family or caretakers who are struggling with addictions, mostly alcoholism. A lot of young teenagers have difficulty sharing their feelings about their alcoholic parents or siblings with their friends in a social environment. Since school is difficult time for many kids, a lot of people don't reach out because they're afraid that they will be socially rejected.
Alateen groups allow teenagers do open to open up and share their experiences with other teenagers, which can be incredibly helpful for helping them overcome their problems. This can also prevent them from developing permanent mental illnesses as a result of caring for an addicted parent without addressing the trauma that may come along with it.
Al-anon functions in a similar fashion, but does not restrict its members to teenagers. Al-anon is for the families and loved ones of people who are struggling with addictions and don't have the proper support necessary to deal with it on their own.
Finding an Al-anon or Alateen meeting
Most support groups don't require that you actually register before showing up, so you should be okay just arriving. Members will all introduce themselves anew everyday, so you don't have to worry about feeling like the odd one out. Furthermore, these people will all be happy to receive you and you won't have to worry about being judged.
The only thing that you need to worry about is actually finding the meeting.
It's not always easy to find these types of meetings as it is to find AA or NA meetings, being as these other groups have been around for more than half a century and are quite widespread. It's not uncommon to find postings for these more popular meetings in public areas like at churrches, where the meetings are often hosted.
Somebody hoping to find an Alateen meeting or an Al-anon meeting will have to look a bit deeper. One of the best places to start is at any local rehab facilities. Local rehabs will have lists of any of the support groups that can be found in the area. This is because they often recommend that patients completing their programs attend a group support therapy as a form of aftercare to keep them from relapsing and needing to go to treatment again.
Both of these groups have websites online, as well. These websites can help link you to other resources that will help you find what you're looking for.