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Peer Support

By: Roger J. Gregoire, CAC

Alanon/ Alateen
Al-Anon and Alateen1 are mutual help, or peer support groups for those who are affected by the person with alcohol abuse/dependence. Where AA provides support for the identified person with alcohol abuse/dependence.  Al-Anon and Alateen are for those caught in the turbulent wake of chaos that follows the active problem drinker. Here they can find support among others who face similar challenges. Through testimony and validation members begin to feel less isolated and less "crazy",  having come from under the distorted influence of "alcoholic logic".

Members learn to detatch2 from the cycle of this diseased logic. They learn to shift the focus of energy from controlling the disruptive behaviors of the dependent person to focusing on the care of the family as a whole. They learn to detach, not out of judgment and condemnation, but for the preservation of the family and to learn to express being upset without "beating up" the person with alcohol abuse/dependece.3

Alanon members may be husbands and wives, adult children, and parents.

Alateen members consist of teenagers and young adults of the alcoholic/ codependent household.

Online Peer support forums
Online peer support forums are becoming a practical venue for loved ones of an alcohol-dependent relative or friend. The fact that the group is available 24-hours-a-day 7-days-a-week makes it a reliable resource for people because they know it is there for them at any time they may feel especially vulnerable or need support.

Online support groups add an extra level of anonymity that is unachievable in any live meeting situation. The technology creates a new venue "anonymous group therapy" with some of the benefits of a live group while maintaining complete anonymity. Body language is lost, but embarrassment is easily overcome.

A recent study conducted by the University of Maryland concluded that online forums were three times as effective at helping smokers with their addiction to nicotine, than those who did not participate in an online forum.4

Internet-based peer support can be a very useful resource for those who want to help their loved one but don't want to enable or inadvertently contribute to the problem. Conversing with others with similar experiences can provide a new perspective on a situation that may have appeared hopeless.


  1. Al-Anon/Alateen website.
  2. Buddy T. Changing The Focus. Al-Anon Meeting Topic: Detachment. Alcoholism & Substance Abuse. April 18, 2004.
  3. Carole R., Missouri. The Forum. Al-Anon/Alateen in the Greater Minneapolis and St. Paul Area. February, 2004.
  4. New Study Finds Going Online Helps Smokers Quit
    Online Support Communities Helped 62 Percent Successfully End the Habit

This page was last modified on : 10/28/2013

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