Each group should be autonomous,
Except in matters affecting another group, Al-Anon or AA as a whole.
The relatives of alcoholics when gathered together for mutual aid,
may call themselves an Al-Anon Family Group,
provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
The only requirement for membership
is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.
- A member shares, “One thing that always confused me was Al-Anon’s refusal to accept donations from outside groups. We’re always broke. What harm would it do to take a donation from a charitable organization or a hospital or a university or a church? We do so much good. But I’ve come to realize that first off, there are no free lunches. The charity or hospital or university or church would no doubt want to tout their civic mindedness. We’d start to be associated with that organization. We’d have to be careful to take them into consideration when we did outreach. It would just get so complicated. Plus it might alienate members. They might not like the organizations we were now affiliated with or maybe they’d feel like they had to drum up support in their synagogues or sports teams or places of business. Anonymity would be compromised. It just seemed like it would snowball. Even thinking about it gave me a headache. So keep it simple and keep the focus on Al-Anon. And if that means we have to keep passing the hat, so be it. It’s a small price to pay for our independence.”
Al-Anon has only one purpose – to help families and friends of alcoholics. And to do that, we need to keep the focus on Al-Anon and avoid diluting or confusing our message.
- A member shares, “Tradition Three prompts me to ask myself, "Through what lens am I developing my new healthy recovery vision?" Is it the "Al-Anon lens", which is supported by such incredible literature and language? Or, as I share in the rooms, am I bringing in other modalities which might not be so helpful after all? Years ago, I was working with a sponsor who kept bringing the teachings of a popular "new age guru" into our work sessions. More than once, I asked that we just focus on Al-Anon literature and teachings, but unfortunately, he was not able to do that. As a result, I felt distrustful, defensive, and protective of my Al-Anon recovery. How could I make progress in the Al-Anon program if my sponsor was not able to keep our recovery work focused on the teachings, practices, and principles of Al-Anon? Recognizing healthy boundaries is what this tradition brings up for me.”
- A member shares, “Outside of our meetings I can share anything and everything I choose. However, in our meetings I honor this tradition by not sharing my religion, profession or causes that are important to me. I don't talk about a movie I've seen, a candidate I might endorse or a philosophy I'm considering exploring. It is distracting and uncomfortable when anyone breaks this tradition in our meetings. As it says in Al-Anon Spoken Here (p11), 'We do not get the Al-Anon program anywhere else, and when we come to our meetings, the Al-Anon program is all we expect to hear.'"
Tradition Three speaks to another issue of great importance to the program – the feeling of belonging.
- “It is not always easy for newcomers to know whether or not they belong. Many of us had to overcome years of denial before we even suspected that alcoholism existed in our families. All we knew at first was that we identified strongly with the feelings we heard expressed in meetings and that we felt at home. Without having been part of an Al-Anon group, we might never have realized that we had been affected by this disease. Had anyone demanded that we justify our participation in an Al-Anon group, we probably couldn’t have done so. Fortunately, it is left to us to decide for ourselves in our own time whether or not we are qualified for membership.” How Al-Anon Works p112
- “It took me over a year to realize that I was an adult child of alcoholic parents. I am so grateful that I was given the time and the support to come to this awareness when I was ready.” Courage to Change p358
- A member shares, “The first time I went to an Al-Anon meeting I remember looking into the room and seeing no People of Color there. And I thought this isn’t for me. But then I remembered my friend saying that the only thing that mattered is that I was bothered by someone’s drinking so I went in. And it changed my life.”
Getting to know different kinds of people is one of the hidden perks of Al-Anon. It truly is a bridge back to life.
- A member shares, “I'm a political animal. I studied politics in school and have been involved in local and national campaigns, making calls, getting signatures, registering voters. In 2012 I moved temporarily to Pennsylvania to volunteer for my beloved President Obama. Vocationally, I've worked to expand abortion, reproductive, and LGBT rights. In short, I've spent most of my adult life having an opinion—and making sure everyone knows what it is. But when I walk into "The Rooms," I leave my views behind. The Third Tradition reminds me that my raison d'être is providing mutual aid for those with a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend. So I never discussed politics. I removed buttons with political slogans. I rarely heard anyone discuss political details. Then, after years of knowing a dear, wise Al-Anon pal, I learned that S. was ultra conservative. The singularity of purpose, enshrined in the Third Tradition, had protected me from myself. I could have easily discounted him and blocked him from my life without knowing his loving heart. Al-Anon gives me a chance to glean insights from people with different externalities, but a remarkably similar life story.”
Al-Anon has no membership requirements other than a desire to recover from the impacts of alcoholism. This helps us remember to be kind and accepting to everyone who walks into a meeting. As our suggested closing states, “After a while, you’ll discover that though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way – the same way we already love you.”