One of the difficulties young people face with an alcoholic family member are different than adults face. But just like adults they can benefit by talking to peers about the situation. Alateen meetings are meant to address this need.
If they are drinking themselves, AA will accept them, but Alateen meetings are a branch of Al-anon, an organization designed to help family members of alcoholics. The problem for a teen is that the loved one who is an alcoholic is also a father or a mother or other authority figure that shapes their life directly. To remedy this, Al-Anon sponsors Alateen, meetings styled for those between 13 and 19 years old.
Like AA, these meetings are free to attend and use the 12 step model, although with changes that reflect the problems of the non-alcoholic family member. A directory of Alateen meetings can be found here. These are all face-to-face groups. There are “electronic” groups available through Alateen, which seems more fitting for the computer generation, but these require registration. The reason is to protect vulnerable teens from inappropriate contact. A teen who wishes to participate can submit an email here.
Unlike AA, Alateen meetings are meant to run in parallel with Al-anon meetings where other family members can share experiences and learn about how to help a loved one who abuses alcohol.
The existence and need for Alateen is a revealing commentary on how alcohol is used and abused in American society. Unfortunately, alcohol doesn’t care if its victims are underage. The focus is sometimes too much on the alcoholic alone and not enough on the damage that alcoholism does to families and relationships. Studies do show some hope however. The earlier someone can get help, the more positive the outcome will be.