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How do Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon differ?

It’s very difficult to walk the road of recovery alone. No matter how much good work gets done in rehab, the recovering addict will always need a little help along the way to stay sober. Under the best of circumstances, that help would always be there in the form of family and friends lending support. Still, that might not be enough for the recovering addict who leads a stressful and complicated life.

Short of solid support from family and friends, there are other support resources out there for addiction sufferers who need help, recovering addicts, and even family members and friends of recovering addicts. Among the best resources for these groups of people would be Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Al-Anon.

AA is one of several excellent 12 Step programs for addicts. For drug users and recovering drug addicts, Narcotics Anonymous or NA would be the counterpart. As is the case with all 12 Step programs, AA is all about one addict or recovering addict helping another.

For all intents and purposes, AA and NA are faith-based programs of recovery with one caveat. The faith is in a higher power of each member’s choosing. The higher power can be God, Allah, Buddha, or even a rock someone picks up on the road. It simply needs to be someone or something other than themselves that members can put faith in to help guide them.

As for Al-Anon, it has a connection to AA in that the program is available for family members and friends of alcoholics. The program defines itself as a fellowship of concerned family and friends who seek knowledge and support as they stand in support of their suffering family members.

Al-Anon is also a great support resource for people who have become codependent. Codependency is a term used to identify people who have become unduly entwined with their loved one’s addiction issues.

By definition and according to Merriam Webster dictionary, codependency means: “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin).”

How do Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon differ?

From the information we provided above, the answer should be clear. If not, the only real difference is AA is an important support resource for recovering addicts while Al-Anon is an important resource for family members and close friends of addiction sufferers and recovering addicts.

Imagine for a moment the damage that takes place within a family where an addiction sufferer has been causing turmoil. Oftentimes, the turmoil is not confined to the addiction sufferer but instead permeates throughout the family unit. Yes, the addiction sufferer needs a support resource like AA to help them deal with their addiction and recovery. Just the same, family members also need support from others who understand what it’s like to be tethered to an addiction suffer.  Here are a couple of attributes related to AA.


Membership in AA is completely voluntary and free. The only qualification for membership is a strong desire to get sober and say sober.

They are no dues. However, voluntary contributions are accepted to help with the following:

  • Pay for the rent of meeting rooms
  • To pay for the administrative costs related to running the AA nonprofit organization
  • To pay for much need literature about addiction and recovery

The 12 Steps

The 12 Steps of Recovery form the entire basis of the 12 Step approach. The 12 steps focus on members recognizing and admitting their addiction, turning their lives over to a higher power, showing a willingness to make amends to people whenever possible, and having a willingness to help other addiction sufferers.  By the way, a lot of the aforementioned amends get directed towards the family members and friends who participate in the Al-Anon program.

As a top alcohol addiction treatment center, we are very supportive of the concepts associated with both Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. It’s our job to help people like you find a path to recovery. In order for us to do that, we need you to reach out to us for help. You can do that by contacting us at 844-903-2111. With that initial phone call, we will get an opportunity to answer your questions and tell you a bit about our addiction treatment services.