Maria Luisa Ranieri Chiara Panciroli

The Strength of Self-Help Networks: A Study about Local Alcoholics’ Clubs during the Pandemic Emergency in a Region of Italy

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In Italy, self-help/mutual aid networks have grown through a collaborative relationship with Public Services and Third Sector. This contribution aims to outline the – still largely unexpressed – potential of this collaboration, starting from the experience of the Trentino Local Alcoholics’ Clubs (Cat) during the 2020 lockdown. The Pandemic constituted a dramatic but interesting «test bench» for the Cat system. During the lockdown, the Public Services for Addiction Problems and the Cat Local Association promoted a monitoring action aimed at families and individuals who were in contact with the Services or participating in a Cat, with a survey that involved 659 families, corresponding to 1,357 people. The sample’s composition made it possible to compare the perceptions of Club participants with those referred for an alcohol-related problem, but not participants in a Club. In comparing the two sub-samples, it was explored (a) differences between the two groups about the perceptions of their problems course; and (b) differences between the two groups about their families’ climate perceptions and their confidence in the future. The Cats’ families reported a lower impact of the lockdown on their addiction problems and Cats resulted to have a protective effect on the family’s relationship climate. Thanks to the synergy between professionals and the Cats network, hundreds of families with addiction problems were provided with monitoring and support: this leads to interesting implications for the design of the Social and Health Services policies.


  • Self-help/mutual-aid groups
  • Italian Local Alcoholics’
  • Clubs
  • Addiction
  • Social and Health Services
  • Covid-19


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