Online Meetings: 12-Step, Alanon and Others
If you’re familiar with alcoholism, you undoubtedly know that there are opposing views of Alcoholics Anonymous. Supporters believe that this self-help group works wonders, that with the support of like-minded, motivated people, with belief in a higher power—not necessarily a God—and with a sponsor to call in times of trouble, people can recover. Opponents say AA just doesn’t work, that some people need medication, and that “surrendering” to a higher power is…less than optimal.
Some people who have tried an AA (or a related family group) have said they never found a group they felt comfortable with, although I’ve heard an expert recommend that you try several times before saying that. Also, there are other self-help groups, alternatives to AA, such as Women for Sobriety (WomenforSobriety.org), Secular Organizations for Sobriety (www.cfiwest.org/sos/index.htm) and LifeRing (www.lifering.org), also secular, or non-religious.
The purpose of this post is to provide information about online 12-step and Alanon meetings, however. Joan mentioned that she hears from people living in areas that don’t have many meetings, or that, as I mentioned, from people who say they can’t really relate to the groups near them. (There are also people who are disabled or ill, or are caring for others and can’t get out, or who don’t have transportation, and so on.) Finally, there are people who just aren’t ready to “go public” in their communities but want to attend Alanon meetings.
Below is a sample of meetings available online. (But check out the sites I mentioned earlier, too. WFS has online message boards and chats, and LifeRing has online meetings.)
1. The official AA online site, where you can find online meetings, is http://aa-intergroup.org/
2. The Online Alanon Outreach site is http://www.ola-is.org/ Here you’ll even find conference calls! The site also combines the terms Alanon/Alateen. I believe some, if not all, Alanon meetings are open to teens.
3. Miracles in Progress http://www.12stepforums.net/ has a special Family Teens Group page. This seems to be a clearinghouse run by an individual. I had signed up for the newsletter when I was writing my book. I’m not recommending it, but pointing out there are online meetings and it MAY be a helpful resource. Proceed with care.
I noticed that a lot of sites offer newsletters that may be helpful and also have guidelines for meetings. In fact, this article, by a social worker, reminds mental health consumers attending online meetings to exercise caution. The writer says:
“…[T]he mistake we make many times is assuming that everyone there is there to promote positive changes for themselves and learn new and different ways to live their lives. We assume they are desiring inner growth and healing. However, as many of us have found out, this is not the case. People go to these groups for all kinds of reasons and many times the people themselves are not even aware of why they are there.
I get letters from people all the time complaining how their “group” is making them miserable instead of helping them. People are saying horrible things to them, getting angry at them, etc.”