Frequently asked questions

Q: Why are there no official Al-Anon online meetings?

A: E-meetings are not a new concept for Al-Anon members, World Service Office (WSO) have lists of some e-meetings on their website. - See link in "useful link" page. But as yet they are not something that the UK arm (GSO) has adopted.

The online meetings that some Al-Anon members have decided to create are not officially endorsed by GSO. They are not covered by Al-Anon insurance policies and are not registered with GSO. They are run by members of Al-Anon, who have come together to try an maintain contact with each other through this challenging time. Most meetings will aim to adhere to the Al-Anon principles, concepts and guidelines as much as possible. Many members will find many similarities between these meetings and a regular real world meetings.

 

"Al‑Anon members taking part in electronic meetings are encouraged to carry Al‑Anon’s message of hope and comfort to potential members, those still suffering from the impact of someone else’s drinking, and the professional community."*

*Extract from WSO guideline leaflet G39: Electronic Al-Anon Meeting Guideline

Q: I'm concerned about Anonymity. How do online meetings insure my privacy is protected?

A: Anonymity is a an important part of the Al-Anon traditions. Not only to protect ourselves but also to protect our loved ones.

It is largely an individuals responsibility to protect their own anonymity. You can do this in several ways.

  • Change your user ID/name when entering the meetings. - there are lots of Videos on YouTube that might be helpful to show you how to do this if you are unsure. - See our HELPFUL LINKS page to find some for the most commonly used platforms.
  • Never share your Surname or other private details with anyone during the meeting. 
  • Protect others privacy by not repeating things heard in a meeting. If everyone does this, everyone can feel safe knowing they can share their experiences without fear. "Who you see here, What you hear here, When you leave here, let it stay here." 
  • Consider your environment when participating. Are you in an area where you can be overheard? Or can others overhear what's being shared? Similarly can other people see your screen and therefore see others on the call? This can make some people feel very unsafe! so please be respectful. Perhaps go into another room? And use headphone where possible.  

If we all take responsibility of our own anonymity by following these simple steps. Everyone will benefit - think 'Heard immunity'.

 

The meeting host(s) can also do a few things to help protect those attending.

  •  It is good practice to remind all participants of the importance of anonimity.
  •  Assign a co host (if the platform allows this feature) to help monitor participants behavior to make sure no inappropriate images are being shared or any Chat message are not contravening the Al-Anon princples.
  • Host and co hosts can and should ask members to identify themselves if somebody joins a meeting without a video or audio output. 
  • Host may have the ability to manually change the user name of a participant. This should be done if the guest is unable to do that themselves to help protect their anonimity.
  • Host on many platforms can eject members not abiding by the suggestions given to protect the meeting, such as being rude or aggressive or disapplying inappropriate content. On many platforms you can eject and allow guest to return, or block them from returning completely. If a problem persists then meeting can be closed and new a new meeting ID generated to re-start.
  • Meetings on many platforms can be locked after an agreed time to prevent any new guests joining. 
  • Consider using passwords to access your meeting.
  • Consider using waiting rooms to filter out unknown or unwanted guests.

 

Q: Our group is worried about our meeting getting to big. Do we have to share our links with you?

A: Absolutely not! 

Tradition 4, tells us that 'Each group is autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Al-Anon or AA as a whole'.

If you feel more comfortable conducting a meeting with Al-Anon group members without sharing those details with this site, that is perfectly fine.

Remember currently in the UK, there are no official Al-Anon online meetings, so there is no obligation to register a meeting with GSO (nor with us).

Al-Anon members have often, in the past, held small study discussion groups to help them learn more about the steps and traditions for example. These study groups can greatly benefit individuals understanding and recovery. They can often benefit from limiting a groups size so that focus and direction is not lost. 

It might be helpful to keep in mind the following when making a decision to share details about an online meeting and its purpose.

Tradition 3 - The relatives of alcoholics, when gathered together for mutual aid, may call themselves an Al-Anon Family Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.

Tradition 5- Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.

 

Many groups do wish to share their details with us however. They recognise it can be a valuable resource for anyone looking for help and support. At any time, regardless of location or contact with their home groups.

Keeping a meeting listed on this site can be particularly useful for newer members and newcomers as it gives them plenty of opportunity to try many different meetings. It can help recovery to hear different members shares to further understand a situation.

It can also be useful for longer term members looking to expand their understanding and hear shares from people they would not have usually come into contact with.

The Al-Anon Declaration:

Let It Begin With Me.
When anyone, anywhere,
reaches out for help - let the hand of
Al-Anon and Alateen always be there, and
Let It Begin With Me.

Q: If we share meeting Passwords on this website, doesn't that mean they are no longer secure?

A: This website is posted on a free hosting platform. You may have noticed the unusual ending to the sites name in your browser search bar? 

If you were to type in 'Finding friends of Lois W UK' into google search or Bing or any other search engine, you'd need to scroll through many many pages before stumbling over this site. That is because free hosting sites usually encourage you to 'upgrade' to .com, .net, .co.uk etc. Wetob domain names in order for searches to appear higher on Google/ Bing page returns. In a normal business setting you want more people to find your site and buy your product so it's in your interest to make yourself easy to find.  

As this is a temporary website, created to try and help members find the information they need regarding online meetings, we didn't pay for a domain name upgrade. The chances are you reading this because someone forwarded you a link to the site.

What all of this means is that while technically the question of password accessibility is valid, in reality, posting your meeting password on this site wouldn't compromise the security of your meeting, because the vast majority of this website's users are likely already Al-anon members. The general pubic is unlikely to stumble onto this site, and therefore wouldn't have access to the passwords.

Lots of meetings are choosing to add passwords to their meetings, primarily to stop so called 'Zoom Bombing' occurring (Think old 'school knock down ginger' or 'telephone bingo' that bored kids used to play if you are unfamiliar with the term). There is no doubt dubious people out there who's technical knowhow could be used to search out meetings and passwords from the internet. But if you remember to take steps to protect your own anonymity within your meetings you should have little to fear. Remember you can always remove people from online meetings if you are unsure of their intentions. 

This websites primary purpose is to give people access to online meetings, the same way that GSO provides lists of physical meetings, their locations and start time etc. If your group is welcoming all of those who wish to find help and support through a meeting then a central point of reference is surely a good start?

 

 

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