Therapist-led group therapy and self-directed group recovery have taken to the internet to offer addicts a virtual alternative to recovery. In an age where every facet of life finds an expression on cyberspace, New Age Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings have become a real, viable way to discover support. Online AA forums bring recovering substance abusers together from remote locations, providing a safe space to discuss personal experiences, failures, and successes.
The Pros and Cons of New Age AA
People tend to behave differently when they’re online than in face-to-face interactions. The internet provides total and complete anonymity, encouraging users to share openly and without inhibition. Having easy access to instant, online communication with a therapy group can give recovering alcoholics the support they need to stick to the program. Teenagers can especially benefit from online AA chat rooms. Online support groups boost self-confidence and allow them to take control of their problems without the feelings of social anxiety often experienced through traditional AA meetings.
Other benefits associated with virtual AA meetings include:
- Accountability – Group members hold each other accountable for daily check-ins to confirm sobriety and mark progress.
- Fellowship – Joining an online self-help group offers 24/7 chat rooms for support and encouragement.
- Information – The World Wide Web has a plethora of information, guidebooks, and helpful advice for AA members. Online forums are invaluable to spreading awareness and introducing new members to the process.
- Emergency help – Instant access to an online group serves as a virtual AA sponsor, providing around-the-clock help when members need it the most.
- Anonymity – Online support groups offer complete anonymity to members who fear what others think and may not feel comfortable attending in-person meetings. Online AA gives these individuals a sense of freedom and hope outside the traditional recovery system.
On the other hand, the same lack of identity can make users vulnerable to dishonest online AA members. Your teen should choose an online AA platform carefully to avoid taking advice from or opening up to a virtual menace. Weigh the pros and cons of online AA meetings before encouraging your teen to join.
How to Access Online Support Groups
If you’re interested in joining an online support group or having your teen join one, there are various platforms available. Facebook has plenty of forums and groups for AA members, all of which welcome new members with open arms. Many colleges run discussion forums for students, or you can simply perform a Google search for AA groups and select one that best suits your or your teen’s needs. You can join online support groups for current or past addictions and seek help from peers and real therapists virtually.
One popular support group on reddit, r/StopDrinking, has more than 31,000 subscribing members from around the globe. Of these members, one in five say the platform is their only support group, and most call it the best tool in their fight against alcoholism. Other self-help forums have cropped up on Reddit and other social media sites, offering easy access to diverse forms of AA meetings.
Seek Help in Many Different Ways
Online AA meetings work best when paired with in-person meetings and interventions. It takes a lot to recover from an alcohol addiction, and attending drug and alcohol meetings is a crucial part of the journey.
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