Yes! Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as dozens of other addiction support groups, hold daily online meetings. There are thousands of open meetings to choose from, and like in-person meetings, you have options. Virtual meetings are happening 24/7 a day all over the world, so there is always a way to stay connected.
AA and NA groups are autonomous from the organization, meaning that they adhere to the AA principles but maintain their own “group conscious.” So, group members decide together how they want to hold virtual meetings. Some groups are gender-specific, while others are specifically geared towards beginners, so make sure you choose a meeting that is appropriate to your needs.
How do I access online meetings?
First, you need to choose which type of meeting you want to attend. Choose a meeting type from the options below, then click the link to visit the online meeting directory and choose one that fits your schedule. You can filter results by date & time, or by the style and format of the meeting.
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Cocaine Anonymous
- Marijuana Anonymous
- SMART Recovery
- Al-Anon (for families)
Virtual meetings are held using video conferencing apps on a smartphone or PC. Zoom is the most popular choice for videoconferencing, followed by Skype, WhatsApp and GoToMeeting. All of these services are free to use, but some require downloading an app.
Once you find a meeting in one of the directories, click on it to view the details. The directory will feature a link that will directly connect you to the meeting. There are plenty of options for what type of meeting to attend, but don’t let that overwhelm you. The most important thing is that you get connected with people who know what you’re going through.
What do you need for online recovery meetings?
As far as tech goes, all you need to attend meetings online is an internet connection and a device with a camera and microphone. Most people use smartphones or laptops. You can get away with no video by connecting without a camera, but it’s a much better experience being able to see other people.)
You’ll also need a meeting code and sometimes a password. These can be found on the online meeting directories (listed above). Groups want to encourage new attendees, so they also share their codes and passwords on social media or among fellow members. Online meetings are always free, and you shouldn’t need to purchase any software to access them.
What are online meetings like?
Each group makes its own rules, but in general online meetings follow the format of live meetings. Usually, a speaker tells their recovery story or speaks about a topic and the rest of the attendees will share their experience, strength and hope.
Just like live meetings, online support groups are full of friendly, open people who are there to help you. And, gender-specific and beginner-focused meetings are still available. 12-step groups especially focus on welcoming newcomers and making sure that no one feels like an outsider.
Are online support groups effective?
Yes! While it’s always nice to gather in-person, online meetings maintain the fellowship aspects of support groups, and that makes them a great option when face-to-face meetings aren’t available or practical. The only difference is that you’re accountable for logging in rather than showing up.
Online meetings have been around for a few years, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced support groups that regularly meet to switch to online formats. While technologies like Zoom and Skype have helped thousands of people in recovery stay connected, this is still uncharted territory for many support groups and 12-step programs. While it may be too early for real data that tells us how effective online meetings are, it’s clear to see that groups across the country are alive and well.
Are online meetings still anonymous?
Groups are still taking measures to ensure the anonymity of people attending the meeting. While each group has its own rules, most forbid people from taking screenshots or reproducing anything discussed in the meeting.
If you’re concerned with your online privacy, you can always create an account using only your first name or an alias. While concerns for online security are legitimate, they shouldn’t keep anyone from getting help.
Are AA Zoom meetings more popular due to COVID-19?
AA groups across the country that usually meet in-person are organizing their own online meetings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. One advantage of meeting online is that it opens up local groups to people all over the country and the world. So, if you know someone that attends meetings regularly, ask them if they know of any meetings that have gone remote. AA meetings always encourage newcomers, and you can attend meetings from all over the world from the comfort of your own home.