The Shared Experiences of Al-Anon and Alateen Members
COOPERATION BETWEEN AL-ANON AND AA (G-3)
This guideline and a similar guideline distributed by the AA General Service Office was developed through discussion between Al-Anon and AA staff.
The fellowships of Al-Anon, which includes Alateen for its younger members, and AA have a unique relationship. They were closely allied in their origins and are naturally drawn together by their family ties. Yet the Twelve Traditions emphasize that each works more effectively if it remains separate.
Tradition Six specifically states that Al-Anon is a separate entity. Therefore, in keeping with this Tradition, there can be no combining, joining, or uniting which would result in the loss of identity of either fellowship. Separateness rules out affiliation or merging, but it does not exclude cooperation with AA or acting together for mutual benefit. Al-Anon acknowledges with gratitude the spiritual contribution of AA and there can continue to be cooperation between Al-Anon and AA even while there are many Al-Anon members who have no contact with AA or AA members.
In order to differentiate between affiliation and cooperation, the Policy Committee of Al-Anon has prepared answers to some of the questions that frequently arise.
CAN THERE BE A COMBINED AL-ANON AND AA GROUP?
No. A group must be either one or the other to be registered with the Al-Anon World Service (WSO) or the AA General Service Office (GSO).
WHAT ABOUT REGULARLY SCHEDULED COMBINED MEETINGS SUCH AS “COUPLES,” “OPEN DISCUSSION,” ETC?
If combined meetings are held, they should be used as supplements to regular Al-Anon group meetings.
SHOULD AA MEMBERS BE ASKED TO SPEAK AT REGULAR AL-ANON MEETINGS?
An occasional talk by an AA member at an open Al-Anon meeting can be interesting and helpful. When the program includes Al-Anon, Alateen, and AA speakers, it may help to keep the focus on Al-Anon by scheduling the Al-Anon speaker last.
SHOULD AL-ANON/ALATEEN MEMBERS SPEAK AT AA MEETINGS?
Yes, if invited to do so. Al-Anon members tell their own stories, not the alcoholics’, and emphasize how Al-Anon has helped in their recovery.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE AL-ANON MEMBER WHO IS ALSO A MEMBER OF AA?
Some members of Al-Anon/Alateen are also members of AA. AA Members are welcome to join Al-Anon if they feel their lives have been deeply affected by someone else’s drinking.
The primary purpose of an Al-Anon group is to help families and friends of alcoholics. At Al-Anon meetings, members should not discuss their membership in other anonymous fellowships. Their attendance at Al-Anon or Alateen meetings indicates their membership eligibility and their willingness to focus their attention on the help only Al-Anon can offer. See: The Al-Anon Focus (P-45) and Al-Anon Spoken Here (P-53).
WHAT OFFICES CAN AL-ANON/AA MEMBERS HOLD?
These dual members are, by virtue of their Al-Anon membership, eligible to hold office in their Al-Anon or Alateen group; this is service at the group level. Because of the unique natures of the Al-Anon and AA fellowships, experience has shown that World Service offices beyond the group level, such as group representative (GR), should not be filled by Al-Anon/AA members. The need to focus at all times on the Al-Anon interpretation of the program would produce a conflict of interest at assembly and world service levels.
SHOULD AL-ANON AND AA HAVE COMBINED INFORMATION SERVICES/INTERGROUPS?
Where Al-Anon has not grown sufficiently to support its own Al-Anon information service office or intergroup, it may share facilities with AA provided that Al-Anon meets its portion of the financial obligations toward desk space, use of telephone, etc. When Al-Anon is able to support its own service office, facilities separate from AA are desirable.
Though facilities may be shared, it is important that Al-Anon members be responsible for handling all Al-Anon Twelfth-Step calls. It is also suggested that Al-Anon establish its own committee to oversee Al-Anon’s operation within the office, publish its own bulletin and meeting schedule, and provide liaison with AA’s committee.
SHOULD AL-ANON AND AA HAVE COMBINED CLUBHOUSES?
According to our Traditions, clubhouses are projects outside of the Al-Anon fellowship. Members, as individuals, may join with others to establish such facilities, but their operation is not affiliated with or financed by any Al-Anon or Alateen group.
SHOULD AL-ANON GROUPS MEET AT CLUBHOUSES RUN BY AL-ANON AND AA MEMBERS?
Although some Al-Anon groups use meeting facilities provided and operated by members of the fellowships, each group maintains its separate identity and is responsible for the payment of rent, refreshments, etc.
WHAT PROCEDURES CAN BE TAKEN TO ASSURE COOPERATION WHEN BOTH FELLOWSHIPS ARE PARTICIPATING IN AN AREA OR REGION-WIDE CONVENTION?
When Al-Anon invites AA participation, the Al-Anon/Alateen hosts can: provide ample meeting space, ask an AA liaison member to attend the planning sessions, request that AA members choose their own speakers and plan their own agenda. Al-Anon is responsible for its own agenda, its own speakers, and the overall convention plans and activities.
When Al-Anon is asked to participate in an AA convention, members do well to remember they are present by invitation. The overall plans are AA’s responsibility; however, traditionally Al-Anon is a separate entity and responsible for its own speakers and meetings.
CAN AL-ANON ACCEPT A CONTRIBUTION FROM AN AA CONVENTION IN WHICH AL-ANON/ALATEEN HAVE PARTICIPATED?
Yes. A survey conducted by the WSO indicated that Al-Anon and Alateen participation contributes substantially to the success of AA conventions. In acknowledgment of Al-Anon and Alateen participation, many AA convention planning committees do offer a portion of the registration proceeds to Al-Anon. The World Service Conference has determined that such contributions may be accepted.
SHOULD AA MEMBERS SPONSOR ALATEEN GROUPS?
Alateen is an integral part of the Al-Anon Family Groups and not a part of Alcoholics Anonymous. In all Alateen groups an Al-Anon member sponsors, and in some an AA member assists.
It is the responsibility of the Al-Anon World Service Office to provide service for Alateen groups and produce Alateen literature. AA has stated that it is contrary to its Traditions for the General Service Office to handle these obligations.
SHOULD AL-ANON STOCK AND/OR USE AA LITERATURE?
No. In general, neither fellowship stocks nor uses the other’s literature at meetings. When Al-Anon members use AA literature for their meetings there is a tendency to concentrate on the alcoholic and his/her behavior rather than the family experience and our own recovery.
There is, of course, a great deal of reading value in literature other than that which is Al-Anon Conference-Approved. But it is not the purpose of Al-Anon to make its members familiar with all the approaches – only the Al-Anon approach. Those who wish to acquaint themselves with AA reading material can readily find it at an AA open meeting.
Note: The following resources provides additional information regarding cooperation between Al-Anon and AA:
Service Manual, Digest of Al-Anon/Alateen Policies Section
Guidelines for Al-Anon/Alateen Participation In an Area AA Convention (G-7).
The Al-Anon Focus (P-45).
Al-Anon Spoken Here (P-53).
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.