We are just ordinary people who happen to be friends and family of alcoholics. Originally founded in 1951, Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship that offers a programme of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether the alcoholic recognises the existence of a drinking problem or is seeking help.

We follow a 12-step programme similar to Alcoholics Anonymous - “AA”. The aim is to find peace and serenity in the presence of alcoholism or addiction in a friend or relative. We often share a common problem having lived with alcoholism or addiction in a family member. We can become co-dependent and end up on the ride of addiction ourselves, trying to control our loved one. Our lives become unmanageable and it is often an extremely painful situation to be in.

The Algarve Al-Anon family group is made up of members of all different ages, from different backgrounds, both male and female. There are younger men and women who are spouses of alcoholics, there are older adults who have alcoholic children and there are grown up adult children of alcoholics. All of us are on a common journey to find peace and serenity by following the Al-Anon programme.

For example, one member, Sarah is the mother of an alcoholic daughter who is now in recovery, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous. Sarah attends Al-Anon meetings because the programme helps her deal with her own emotional responses to having been raised around alcoholism. Sarah says, “If it was not for Al-Anon, I would still be interfering and fixing other people’s lives instead of focusing on myself and my own recovery. I am grateful for what I hear at meetings, the community and the friendship.”

The Algarve Al-Anon family group currently meets up twice a week for meetings in English. These meetings are currently held online via Zoom. In a normal situation we would also meet in person- face-to-face, every other week, at a location in the Almancil area of the Algarve. Since the meetings are now online our members are not only from the Algarve but also from other places within Portugal as well as a few members from over-seas. Within the Algarve group, there is also a Portuguese speaking meeting which meets up every other week also online.

Anonymity is an important part of the programme and members promise that anything that is heard or said in the meetings stays there and is not discussed outside the meeting. Members offer each other support and can share their contact details so that even outside of the meetings, in a time of need, a member may reach out to another member for help.

Written by: An Anonymous The Portugal News reader and a very grateful member of Al-Anon.