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Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

The Journal of Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues

6 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.746

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Volume 33, Issue 2 (Apr 2016)


Mutual support and recovery in the Russian Alcoholics Anonymous online community

Laura Lyytikäinen
Published Online: 2016-04-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/nsad-2016-0013


AIMS – In Russia the paradigm of alcoholism as a disease is still in contrast to the general perception of alcoholics as weak-willed. This article studies alcoholism and recovery in Russia through the case study of the Russian Alcoholics Anonymous online group. It studies how people who are seeking help for their drinking problems in this online community come to incorporate a new self-understanding of being ill with alcoholism.

DESIGN – The data were collected from a Russian online support group for people struggling with alcoholism. The source material consists of 617 posts by more than 35 individuals. The data was analysed with qualitative content analysis using the RQDA software.

RESULTS – The online group acts as a virtual space where people can anonymously talk about alcoholism and engage with AA’s 12-Step program. Typically, a new forum member goes through a process of admitting one’s problem with alcohol and coming to a new understanding of oneself as a person suffering from a chronic disease. This process includes creating a new relation to alcohol, a new understanding of one’s reasons for drinking and a commitment to stay sober and to help others to recover.

CONCLUSIONS – The online community creates a space for engagement with AA’s 12-Step program and service work of supporting other alcoholics in recovery in the context of Russia, where face-to-face AA groups and other recovery programmes are scarce. When the state cannot deliver the services for problem drinkers or recovering alcoholics, people may turn to the Internet to find alternative information and social support.

Keywords: alcoholism; recovery; Russia; Alcoholics Anonymous; online support groups


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About the article

Received: 2015-10-22

Accepted: 2016-01-07

Published Online: 2016-04-22

Published in Print: 2016-04-01

Citation Information: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, ISSN (Online) 1458-6126, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/nsad-2016-0013.

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© 2016 Laura Lyytikäinen, published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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