Alcoholics Anonymous Groups for Teens & Young Adults

Parent Q&A

  • I have been to many Alanon meetings and will likely continue to go from time to time.  That is not what this post seeks.  I am a single parent of a 21 year old who has had substance abuse issues since the age of 13.  In every adolescent rehab, adolescent intensive outpatient treatment, and adult rehab my child has been to there were family groups, which included times for families to speak to each other without the qualifying person present.  I always found that support and safe space in which to share invaluable.  (The Alanon meetings I've gone to do not allow cross-talk.)  I am hoping someone knows of groups that focus on living with addicts, and which offer opportunities for support and sharing.  In the East Bay, west of the Caldecott Tunnel, would be ideal.  Thank you!

    No 12-step meetings will allow cross-talk. I frequently go to Nar-Anon (qualifier is 17 y/o daughter). The way to get the support you seek is to network with other individuals in the meeting who have/have had situations that resonate with you, then meet with them outside the meeting. I've gone to meals or shopping with other group members, I also talk to my sponsor outside the meeting when I need to (or call someone on our call list if I'm in a bad frame of mind).  So the support comes from the individual contacts you connect to at the meetings, albeit not IN the meetings. I think you should consider Nar-Anon in addition to Al-Anon -- many of us have the impression that for some reason, Al-Anon tends to be for spouses and children, while Nar-Anon seems to attract more parents. You could also ask private therapists if they are aware of any non-12-step support groups. And lastly - on those occasions where there are less than 5 people in a meeting, sometimes we'll take a quick group conscience to allow for SOME dialogue during the meeting, but everyone has to agree to it and be respectful in any case.  Hope that helps.

Parent Reviews


Coyote Coast specializes in helping people in your exact situation, and they are very good at it. I highly recommend giving them a call ASAP. They are often all booked up, but it's worth calling. They have "mentors" who are actually licensed therapists and provide a variety of levels of support. Our family has benefited from their services.

I also cannot say enough good things about AA. They do have "young persons" meetings, and your son could find a sponsor. They encourage not only sobriety, but "clean living" in general, which includes being honest, taking responsibility, and other traits that everyone could benefit from.My understanding is that recovering addicts of all kinds are welcome at AA meetings (even for recovery from non-alcohol substance abuse).

I am sorry you are in this difficult situation. I can empathize, as I am as well. If no one responds with recommendations for existing parent groups, perhaps we could start one (I will contact you directly through BPN).

The one support I have found is through Al-Anon. Each group is different. I go to one in Menlo Park that's for parents. It's not rigid in it's approach in the way I've heard other Al-Anon groups can be. Many long term members have not done the 12-steps, and "higher power" is used loosely.

I've tried Willows in the Wind, but find it more for parents of minors committed to sending, or having sent, their teens to wilderness therapy or other therapeutic environments.

The failure to launch seems to be an epidemic. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


AlaTeen Meetings in Berkeley

August 2011

Kids growing around alcoholism and addiction need a safe place to talk to other kids in the same situation. That's Alateen. Whether it's a sibling, friend, or parent who is affected, kids (under 21) are welcome.

Alateen meets every Monday from 3:45 to 4:45 in the 2nd floor conference room at the PG/YMCA teen center, 2111 MLK Jr Way, right across the park from Berkeley High School.

Participation in Alateen is completely confidential and there is no charge.

Please help spread the word to teachers, counselors, and others who want to help kids.

Dec 2001

As the holidays approach, the tension in homes with problem drinkers sometimes escalates. If you have teens or know of teens who could benefit from the 12-step approach to living with alcoholism in a family member or close friend, there is an Alateen meeting on Tuesday nights at 8 in Albany at St. Albans Episcopal on Washington (near Santa Fe). Alateen is an anonymous, non-denominational program. In Alateen, teens can express their feelings about the family situation in a safe, non-judgmental environment, learn ways to cope with difficulties associated with alcohol abuse, and receive support and encouragement from peers and adults with similar family circumstances. Kids 12-18 are welcome (sometimes younger kids can also benefit). For more info, please e-mail district26alateen at

April 2001

I've been asked to let the Teen Parents know that a new Alateen meeting is starting at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Albany starting May 1. The meeting runs from 8 to 9. Alateen is part of the Al-Anon Family Groups and is designed for teens whose lives have been affected by drinking in a close friend or family member. If you have questions, please contact district26alateen at yahoo dot com.


Alcoholics Anonymous for teen daughter?

March 2007

I am helping my teenage daughter to deal with not drinking and we are trying to explore all the ideas and methods out there. Right now the most developed ones seem to be AA and Rational (see I am not that familiar with the latter, but am certainly open to anything that will speak to her and us as a family. Yes, she's in therapy, yes, she's going to school and is a good student, getting excercise, yes, we are involved parents. No, we don't have Kaiser: I hear they have a VERY good substance abuse program. I would like to hear back from people who have had experience either themselves or through a relative with these methods, or others that were enlightening. Abstainence is the way to go for us. Please reserve judgement and only give helpful advice. Thanks! anon

I just want to point out that Berkeley and Oakland have one of the most active, vibrant and inspiring groups in of young people in AA in the country. There are young people's meetings (listed as such) and other meetings where young people predominate. Plus they have lots of social events where they have FUN. It's an amazing network and their stories sure helped me stay sober in the early days of my sobriety... Anonymous please

First I want to say that you are taking some very brave steps. There is a lot of shame around this and asking for help can be very difficult. In my life I have received a great deal of support and guidance through twelve step programs. As parents dealing with this do not forget to take care of yourselves. There are many loving and caring people involved with Al Anon that have been down the path you are on. I know this didn't address your specific question, but I hope you found it helpful. In Recovery

There are teen AA groups for your child. It is not an easy path for all of you to travel but being supportive of your teenager yet not falling into codependency roles will get you through this. You may want to try al anon (for parents/friends/spouses) for talking about your fears/misgivings, etc., and to better understand that alcholism is a disease. The upside to your family's situation is that your child is young, plus you have an open communication with your child. In my daughter's recovery early on, I attended an AA meeting (after about 2 months)and leaned how this disease can overtake a person. The people come from all walks of life but they all share the same addiction. You have to be openminded and not judgmental. I forwarded your request for advice to my daughter, and here it is:

Hi, My mom forwarded me your message. I am in recovery and just celebrated 5 years of sobriety. I started going to AA when I hit a bottom at 31. At first I couldn't relate to anyone at the meetings, but I met some great women who helped me through that first 90 days of not using. If it wasn't for the personal connections I made in the meetings, I probably would have gone back to drinking. It was such a relief to hear people talking about the things I thought I only did- the crazy behavior and thinking that surrounds alcohol and drug abuse. It was also a relief to hear that alcoholism is a disease and not a defect of character.

I too have heard Kaiser has a great program (a lot of people I know in AA went through it). I heard many negative things about Rational. I would recommend AA to your daughter. There are some great young people's meetings (I went to one in Oakland and everyone was 17-25), and there is a community of sober people there. My experience is that AA is the path that works. It saved my life, gave me back a relationship with my mom, gave me a life again. Hope this helps, Recovering Alcoholic joan

As someone with personal knowledge of 12 step programs I believe them to be a very valuable tool. I would go so far as to say that AA probably saved my life. They have a saying, actually many sayings, but the one that kept me going was: Take what you want, and leave the rest. Alateen also might be something to consider. One day at a time (and sometimes one second) been there