Singleness of Purpose – Episode 266

Why do we gather in Al-Anon groups? How do we maintain our singleness of purpose?

It’s been hard this week not to lose hope and to give in to despair about the divisiveness and even hate that seems to be the norm for society today. It’s brought me to reflect again on how amazing this program of recovery is. We come together in Al-Anon for one purpose: to recover from the effects of someone’s drinking or addiction on our own lives. This is the only reason we are here, and somehow we manage to keep the disagreements and debates out. How does this work?

Al-Anon has 12 traditions that help to guide us in how we conduct our meetings and ourselves in reaching for recovery. Several of these relate to this concept of “singleness of purpose.” These are:

Tradition 5, which defines that purpose: “Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics.”

Tradition 3 says that this is our only reason for coming together: “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.”

Traditions 6, 8, and 10 set some boundaries on how we express our singleness of purpose.

6: Our Al-Anon Family Groups ought never endorse, finance, or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems … divert us from our primary spiritual aim.

8: Al-Anon Twelfth-Step work should remain forever nonprofessional…

10: The Al-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues…

Let’s look at some these, guided by questions from the book Paths to Recovery.

Tradition 5

  • How do I describe our primary purpose?
  • How can I guide [newcomers] to focus on the alcohol-related aspects of [their] problems?
  • What does comfort mean to me? How can I extend that to another person?

Tradition 3

  • Do I welcome all who attend our meeting even if they are different from me…?
  • Do I treat each member and potential member with unconditional love?
  • How can my group welcome members of other programs and maintain our Al-Anon focus?
  • Do I leave my other affiliations and interests outside the doors of Al-Anon?
  • How can I treat others with tolerance, acceptance and love?

Tradition 6:

  • Why do we not “endorse, finance or lend our name to any outside enterprise”?
  • How can I discourage members, without embarrassing them, from bring outside enterprises into our meetings.

Tradition 8:

  • Do I willingly share my ESH with those who are suffering from the family disease of alcoholism?
  • How can I share with others without trying to fix them?
  • At meetings to I speak as an export or as a fellow member?

Tradition 10:

  • How do I concentrate on our common bonds rather than on our differences?
  • If someone does bring up what I think is an outside issue, how can I gently bring discussion back to our Al-Anon approach?
  • Am I defensive because someone doesn’t agree with me?  How do I respond?

Readings and links

I read from Courage to Change, February 21.

I mentioned Anne Lamott's book Help, Thanks, Wow, which I also talked about in episode 111, Prayer.

A correspondent talked about how helpful the book Choosing to Forgive by Diane DeLong Clark had been for her.


An upcoming topic is about miracles or coincidences. Maybe you call them a “Step 2 experience”.How have you experienced miracles or coincidences as messages from your higher power? Big or small? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

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