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How Does AiR Line Up with Al-Anon?

group therapy

Al-Anon focuses primarily on the family member and their recovery from being with someone who abuses substances.

The 12 steps of AA guide this process of self-discovery and healing.  Al-Anon stresses our lack of control over someone else’s drug or alcohol use. They believe that there is nothing to be done until the Loved One hits bottom, admits the problem, and stops using.  In the meantime, the family member is supposed to detach with love.

At AiR we agree there is no controlling someone’s substance use, BUT we differ on a crucial point: a family member does have influence.  A family member is part of the immediate environment and can create the conditions that promote sobriety and recovery.

So it follows that at AiR, we teach the family member a set of skills for better responding to a Loved One’s behavior. When they are using, you’re going to allow natural consequences, detach yourself, and remove rewards. When they aren’t using you're going to reward that behavior. 

This set of principles applies to the present moment, and can also be applied to the larger decisions that hang over many families: housing, financial support, use of the car, help with the logistics of getting treatment.

Our approach teaches that there are actions you can and should take while your Loved One is still using. By doing so, you will help to unblock the situation, moving your Loved One towards treatment and recovery. 

On this important point, AiR is different from Al-Anon.  However, the support you may gain from a group of people with a shared experience can be so very helpful.  If you find Al-Anon helps, by all means seek out meetings BUT also learn the skills we teach at AiR. 

70% of families trained in our program succeed in getting their Loved One to enter treatment — this is a critically important outcome that confirms that taking action works. It is proof that you play a role.

It is evidence that intervening before a Loved One hits bottom is successful in helping them towards treatment and recovery.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. I saw this post and was hoping I might just comment on my experiences with both Al-anon and Allies In Recovery. My belief is that they are very complementary to one another.
    1) Al-anon encourages people to be compassionate and respectful of others including the person suffering with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Allies In Recovery (AIR) teaches you how to implement and communicate with compassion and respect for others.
    2) Al-anon encourages listening, AIR teaches you the skills to be better listeners.
    3) Al-anon focuses heavily on taking care of yourself (extremely important), AIR supports taking care of ourselves by treating others the way we want to be treated.
    4) Al-anon is about detaching WITH LOVE. AIR supports detachment from behavior you want to change and encouraging good behavior (Which for me is an example of detachment with love).
    4) Al-anon is peer led, AIR is evidence based and created by a profession with proven accomplished methods.

    Personally, I have found that being in a peer led support group, I have to, as they say, “take what I like and throw the rest away”. I find that groups seem to interpret what is said in the room and adopt it as a belief as a whole. I have a brain that questions everything and so if I hear something that does not sound right, I will do a lot of research and analyze it from all angles. Anything that is absolute usually is not. So some of the anecdotal things I hear I question:
    1) They have to hit rock bottom, well that could be death so no. Many times it is not a matter of rock bottom but a series of little realizations for some.
    2) If you ________(let him/her live at home, pay for food,help with rent…) then you are enabling, well no, maybe he reached a certain goal and I’m rewarding him/her.
    3) You have no power over the disease, well yes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some influence on the person. In fact, I do have influence. I interact with him/her and I’m important to them and they keep coming back to me so there must be something there.

    I can go on and on, so I won’t. I will say that I could not have the improvement and healing I have had in my life if did not have Al-anon and AIR. Both have been pivotal in which direction I would go. I am thankful that they exist, I would not have been able to recover if they weren’t. I have met some of the most incredible people on this journey and I have my son to thank for that. If it were not for him I would not have this opportunity to grow!
    Remember you are not alone.

  2. I desperately need my child’s father to go to treatment, but he is not ready….but he can not live in the home we share as housemates – my hands are tied on what I can do – I need to focus on my continued recovery as well as my child’s wellbeing! Been to DCF, can’t Section 35, police can’t assist… At my wits end!

  3. My daughter is home from rehab. The “rules” we set, are almost a joke. She is not following most of them. Is she using again, I don’t think so. I have more rules, but how can I set those if she is not following all of the first ones? Should I just make up rules as we go along? I want to follow her every move. I am afraid and feel so alone. Family is basically not helping me. I miss not being able to trust her. What should I do if she comes home high. She came home drunk and told me “alcohol is not her problem drugs are so don’t worry”. I am like are you kidding me. I think getting drunk can cause a problem also. She goes to classes for addicts 5 days a week. and NA or AA Meeings 1 to 3 times a week should I go with her?