Alateen is a fellowship of young people under 19 years old who’s lives are affected by alcoholism. It is a part of the Alcoholics Anonymous Family Groups, or Al-Anon, that is designed just for teens who are affected by a family member of friend who is an alcoholic. It was developed to encourage young people who are in similar situations to share their experiences and find strength in others. The Alateen program believes that alcoholism is a family disease because it affects not just the person who is physically intoxicated by also those around them. Families and friends share the burden of alcoholism and are often the ones who have to deal with the negative behaviors and consequences of a persons substance abuse.
The Alateen program is designed to alleviate some of the crippling emotions that revolve around alcoholism such as blame, guilt, hurt and fear and encourage young people to live productive and healthy lives. Members are taught that alcoholism is not caused by them, not able to be cured by them and should not dictate their lives. Support and strength can arise from a relationship with an alcoholic friend or family member while not taking on the guilt, shame and responsibility for it.
Al-Anon is an important and integral part of Alcoholics Anonymous that is for families, relatives and friends of people who suffer from alcoholism. The aim of Al-Anon is to support people who are affected by alcoholism and foster meaningful and compassionate relationships beyond the addiction. It is believed that Al-Anon and its other groups give comfort to people involved with a person who has an addiction and help them to gain strength from the experiences of others.
Many people find group meetings and the sharing of experiences beneficial for helping them deal with the problems of alcohol in their life. Attendees of Al-Anon share and support one another through difficult times and help them to see that they are not the cause of the problem nor can they be the solution. Alcohol can affect people’s lives in many ways including contributing to violence, financial problems, depression, anxiety, work problems and lead to anger, resentment and hate.
Many individuals who seek help from a program like Al-Anon or Alateen suffer from a low idea of self worth, low self-esteem and lack confidence. They are often existing in a relationship with the alcoholic that is not healthy or supportive and they often compensate for the behavior of the person they love. A lot of people blame themselves for the alcohol problems despite it not being caused or even contributed to by them. Al-Anon aims to encourage strength and confidence in individuals to allow them to help the alcoholic on the road to recovery without being affected by blame or shame.
For teenagers and young people, it is difficult to comprehend why a person abuses alcohol and harms themselves. Many young people will blame themselves for the destruction caused by the alcoholic and think that they are responsible for the behavior, arguments, problems and negativity that alcohol abuse can bring. In a family situation, children are often the victims of alcoholism and substance abuse . They are often victims of domestic violence, abuse, neglect and have to follow in the destructive footsteps of their parents with often little support from other family members or friends. As young people get older and become more aware of their situation and the impact that alcoholism is having on their family, problems will often arise with their peers, at school or at home as a reaction.
Alateen combines group counseling and the twelve-step program of recovery that is used in the Alcoholics Anonymous to foster healing and support. The program also has an active adult member who is a sponsor of the group that encourages members to share knowledge, feelings, fears and hopes. Additionally, Alateen members can choose to have a personal sponsor to give them the extra support they need when going through difficult life changes.
The Alateen program is based on a twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous which is followed by members to encourage change in their behavior, attitudes and relationships with others. The twelve steps of Alateen are as follows;
* Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable
* Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
* Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
* Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
* Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
* Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
* Step 7 – Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
* Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
* Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
* Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
* Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out
* Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
The original 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are aimed at alcoholics attempting to beat their addiction. Alateen has slightly different wording, but the gist of the stages of recovery are exactly the same.