Lois Wilson, the Woman Behind Al-Anon

Posted on April 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

“When Love is Not Enough,” the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie about Lois Wilson, the wife of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, will premiere this weekend starring Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper. Lois Wilson recognized that the friends and families of alcoholics needed a place to share their stories and find support. She had learned that those who love alcoholics could not change them but that they could find their own peace. And so she and helped to found the Al-Anon Family Groups. From the initial 48 who responded to her in 1951, it grew to over 29,000 groups worldwide and a membership of over 387,000, reaching out with a blog, podcasts, publications, and the core of their program, their in-person meetings, held all over the world. “In Al-Anon and Alateen, members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.”

The motto is, “To help them, you have to help yourself first.” They tell their members, “It is estimated that each alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people… alcoholism is truly a family disease. No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship.”

Here Bill and Lois Wilson tell their story.

“I believe that people are good if you give them half a chance and that good is more powerful than evil.

The world seems to me excruciatingly, almost painfully beautiful at times, and the goodness and kindness of people often exceed that which even I expect.”

– Lois Burnham Wilson

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