Millions of people around the world depend on group recovery meetings to maintain their sobriety. In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous or more commonly referred to as AA, which is one of the most popular fellowship programs for people who want to recover from alcohol abuse, has an estimated 2.1 million members worldwide. Aside from AA, there are other twelve step facilitation programs (TSF) dedicated to people who want help with various addictions, mental health problems, and other compulsive behaviors.
The ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, however, has halted in-person AA group meetings in many places including the United States. Everyone is advised to practice social distancing and to avoid gatherings, which will hopefully help slow down the spread of the virus. With everyone staying at home, in quarantine or in a lockdown, many people in recovery needing group support have turned to a virtual alternative: Zoom meetings.
Zoom is an online video conferencing platform that can be opened on a web browser or a mobile application. A meeting host can start a meeting and attendees can join via a link. Unlike other web conferencing software or video calling apps, Zoom has gained popularity because it is straightforward and uncomplicated. You don’t need to add several contacts like in WhatsApp or Skype. While you would need to sign up to host a meeting, you are not required to do so if you’re just joining a meeting. It is also possible to join a meeting using a telephone if an attendee does not have an internet connection.
The infrastructure of Zoom makes it perfect for meetings like AA because attendees can opt to stay anonymous. It also allows attendees a certain level of privacy because unlike Facebook Groups, you are not giving people the capability to stalk your Facebook account and information. So how exactly can virtual AA meetings help people who are stuck at home?
According to a recent Cochrane study, AA and other similar twelve step programs may be superior to other treatments when it comes to increasing the percentage of alcohol abstinence in the long-term. Results also state that AA and TSF programs have been found to probably perform as well as other treatments when it comes to reducing the intensity of alcohol drinking and other alcohol-related consequences. The new study, which was based on an analysis of 27 studies involving more than 10,000 participants, debunks a similar, much smaller Cochrane study conducted in 2006 which doubted the effectiveness of AA and TSF programs.
Members of the recovery community have been aware of the effectiveness of these programs which is why these are integrated into many treatment modalities. With personal AA meetings being canceled, online alternatives can be used to provide ongoing support. This is very important especially if you are just new to recovery to ensure that you can stay on track. The continuous support from virtual meetings is also extra valuable for people who have made AA meetings a part of their daily routine.
People who are looking for online twelve-step meetings can visit the AA Intergroup website to check out different meetings they can join in.
There are several meetings that you can join depending on your schedule or time zone. There are also 24-hour support group meetings that members are hosting themselves. You can usually find these meeting announcements in Facebook Groups.
Isolated but connected
With people being advised to stay home and practice social distancing, it is not difficult to feel more isolated than ever. While self-isolation could keep you safe from acquiring or spreading the virus, many people in recovery also know that this could be a reason for relapse. This is because many people develop substance abuse and mental health issues due to loneliness.
When you have a support group, like what you experience in AA meetings, the fellowship could help you get through tough times. Suddenly, you have people who could understand what you’re going through and you can voice out your feelings without guilt or shame. Since in-person group meetings are not possible at this time, AA Zoom meetings can then fill in the gap to help you stay more connected to other people.
Can encourage more newcomers to try out AA meetings
There are many people who are reluctant to join AA meetings because they feel ashamed or they are unsure of what to do or what to say. With online AA meetings, newcomers can dip their toes in and try out the experience. This is especially beneficial to introverts who may not be comfortable meeting new people or being in a strange group.
AA Zoom meetings or similar virtual recovery group meetings can provide attendees a little more privacy than coming in-person. Hopefully, once newcomers experience the benefits of attending AA meetings, they would be able to consider going to in-person meetings in the future.
Ability to attend more meetings
Many people in recovery miss AA meetings due to different reasons – maybe they are too busy, they can’t prioritize, they live too far away, or they are too lazy. AA Zoom meetings provide a convenient alternative because you can attend a meeting anywhere you are, as long as you have a phone or internet. You can also choose a schedule that is convenient for you and even choose different groups that you are comfortable with. Because of this, it will be possible for you to attend more recovery meetings.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.