The organization strongly recommends that the Al-Anon meeting online not be used to replace old-fashioned meetings due to the loss of the face-to-face interaction and support available there.
However, they do acknowledge that there are those who either don't have ready access to a group or have a disability that prevents them from getting to offline meetings.
Official Alanon Online
In order to find an Al-Anon meeting online, you can do a Google search or go to the Online Al-Anon Outreach (OLA) website where they have links to the official Al-Anon meetings on the web.
An official Alanon meeting online is done mainly in text chat format with a java script powering the alanon chat rooms.
The meetings listed on that site are all registered and recognized by the official Al-Anon organization.
Besides just the text alanon chat groups, OLA also lists email groups and internet telephony meetings.
The email groups are more of an ongoing support group as there is no real time interaction.
The telephony meetings use teleconferencing platforms so that participants can talk with each other, rather than typing in text.
Unofficial Alanon Online Meetings
Others not listed at the official site can be found through the Google search function and those Al-Anon meetings can offer more variety as to format.
You may be able to find an Al-Anon meeting online that uses video conferencing so that there is a more realistic atmosphere to the meeting.
While the meetings listed on OLA will follow the usual protocols of an offline meeting, the unofficial Al-Anon meeting online may not.
Your best bet would be to try several different meetings, in several different formats, until you figure out which one is most comfortable for you to participate in.
Finding an Al-Anon meeting online could help you cope with the alcoholic in your life more easily as you'll be able to get support almost around the clock on the internet.
A Word of Warning - Beware of Flamers
There are some who, for their own perverted reasons, like to cause problems during Alanon online meetings.
They may be hostile and insult participants during the meeting. This type of act is called 'flaming' in web-speak.
If this happens during a meeting you have joined, then it is up to the moderator of the meeting to sort out the 'flamer'.
If this does not happens then I would advise you to get out of the meeting as fast as you can.
Dealing with an alcoholic and discussing it with strangers is hard enough. Having some fool making light of such issues is not worth the trouble.
If the moderator of one meeting is not willing to do his/her job then it is time to move on. Just look for another Alanon meeting online, there are plenty about.
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Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)