Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship of people whose lives have been affected by another person's addiction to alcohol. Membership in Al-Anon is open to relatives and friends of alcoholics; Alateen is a program designed for young people under the age of 21. The basic principle of both groups is that alcoholism is a family disease; those closely involved with alcoholics may suffer psychologically, spiritually, and often physically.
Both programs offer comfort, hope, and understanding to those who have lived in confusion and despair from the disease of alcoholism. Al-Anon was started in New York City in 1952 by Lois W., wife of one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and Annie B. Alateen groups were first organized in California in 1957.
Although independent of AA, both programs use the AA 12 steps to recovery and conduct their meetings in a similar fashion. Support comes entirely through voluntary contributions from members. By late 1980's, about 25,000 Al-Anon and Alateen groups functioned in more than 70 countries. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., maintains its World Service Office in Virginia Beach.