Al-Anon, ACA and CODA

Al-Anon Et Al

Al-Anon is a “fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.” Alateen is part of Al-Anon.

“Al-Anon was formed in 1951 by Anne B. and Lois W., wife of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill W. They recognized the need for such an organization as family members living with AA members began to identify their own pathologies associated with their family members’ alcoholism. In the USA, Al-Anon Family Groups incorporated as a non-profit organization called Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Alateen took its own name and formation in 1957.” (Wikipedia)

The Al-Anon website is here: Al-Anon Family Groups.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA) is an organization that provides a supportive 12 step program for individuals who desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family. It was officially founded in 1978 in New York by a group of Alateens who had “graduated” out of Alateen and into Al-Anon.  They found Al-Anon did not bring the relief they had been promise.

ACA meetings focus on adults who are no longer living with their parents but are still living with the fallout whereas Al-Anon/Alateen is more for those who are actively dealing with alcoholic and/or addicted or dysfunctional family members or friends.

ACA meetings allow members to share experiences of growing up in an environment where abuse, neglect and trauma brought about difficulties creating, establishing, and maintaining healthy adult behaviors and relationships.

In ACA, the program concentrates on how trauma from growing up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional family impacts all aspects of living life as an adult.

There are approximately 2,880 active Adult Children of Alcoholics groups in North America and over 70 countries.

The ACA / ACOA website is here: Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization.

Codependents Anonymous (CODA) was founded in 1986 in Phoenix, Arizona. It was launched by a couple named Ken and Mary who were both members of Alcoholics Anonymous and realized that besides their alcoholism they also needed to handle their co-dependence issues.

Today, CODA is active in more than 40 countries, with approximately 1200 groups in the United States. It is meant to help individuals who grew up in all forms of dysfunctional families, not just those involving alcoholism or substance abuse.

CODA does not endeavor to define codependence but has a list of “characteristics” of codependents that involve various behavioral patterns, such as denial, low self esteem, avoidance, and compliance and control. The full list is available here: Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence.

The CODA website can be found here: CODA World Fellowship.

All three mutual aid organizations use the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, as adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous.


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