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Can I Attend Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings Online?

AA meetings online are a great way to have support from anywhere in the world when you may need it. Learn more here.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

For those who require support and encouragement, online Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings have become a great option. AA is a global fellowship of women and men who meet at casual gatherings and adhere to principles meant to enable those with a problem with alcohol to live a sober, happy, and fulfilling life.1

AA was developed in 1935 by two men who worked to become sober with new practices and a faith-based approach. Since then, AA has developed into a worldwide movement where members help others get sober by offering advice and support when needed, and it has become one of the most successful and worldwide support groups for alcohol substance abuse disorders. 

AA Meetings Online

How Does Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Work?

An AA meeting is often a discussion on a particular subject. The leader of the meeting selects a topic, and each group member takes a turn speaking about it. Some AA gatherings have a set schedule with a particular goal in mind, such as 12-step study groups or introductory meetings where newcomers may learn the fundamentals of the program.

What Can You Expect at an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting?

It’s okay to be a little unsure and nervous about what to anticipate the first time you or a loved one choose to attend an AA meeting. Different groups will have varied arrangements, but most sessions will have common characteristics.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings typically last for less than two hours. Attendees will divide themselves into a secretary, a facilitator, and then the participants. Participants generally take turns reading and then expressing their experiences of struggle, triumph, and hope. While some members may stay and chat, others may go out to eat together as they continue the discussion. Some people remain and clean up, while others discuss how to maintain sobriety and have fulfilling lives.  

Can I Attend AA Meetings Online?

Attending an Alcoholics Anonymous online meeting is possible and much easier than it used to be. COVID-19 has significantly impacted the way AA meetings are run today. Today's AA meetings are rather diverse, ranging from face-to-face gatherings to those conducted through Zoom, Facebook Live, or other platforms.

What Are Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings?

AA meetings may be closed or open, depending on the group's needs. Open meetings are open to the public. They are usually "speaking meetings," where an AA member tells their story, what their journey has been like, what went wrong, and how they've come to terms with it all.  

However, most AA meetings are closed, meaning they’re personal and only open to members of AA.

Common Meeting Formats

Many individuals believe that all AA meetings must adhere to a certain structure. In actuality, there are many distinct forms.

Numerous AA meetings are discussion-based. A chair serves as a moderator by calling on participants and encouraging them to make their voices heard. Below are the most typical AA meeting formats.

Discussion

In discussion-based meetings, whether one that is closed in-person or one of the open AA meetings, one member generally serves as "chair" or "leader" and picks a subject for discussion. AA publications, such as the AA Big Book, the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, and Daily Reflections provide background for numerous topic options.2

Beginner

These sessions, which are often conducted by someone who has been sober for a long time, may be very beneficial for those who are new to attending AA meetings. Beginner's meetings can take the form of a discussion or focus on Step One, Step Two, and Step Three specifically.

Step/Tradition

Numerous 12-step groups commit one or more sessions a week to studying one or a few steps in turn. Some groups explore two or three steps simultaneously. Most programs include the recitation of The Twelve Steps, and the Twelve Traditions are often recited aloud at the commencement of meetings. Group sessions on the Twelve Traditions might use the same framework.3

The Big Book

This meeting discusses the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS) book, dubbed the "Big Book," as a reference point. Members usually take turns reading aloud from the book. The text may rouse an idea relevant to their rehabilitation.

Speaker

In these types of meetings, members sit through AA speaker sessions to listen to experts address topics about addiction and recovery or to listen to other participants describe their recovery stories.

Do You Have to Be Religious to Participate in AA?

Membership in AA requires just one thing: a willingness to quit drinking. You do not have to be religious to partake in the meetings, even if the organization was created with Christianity in mind.

You can find a place in AA if you're willing to put yourself out there. Getting along with other AA (or Narcotics Anonymous) members is easier if you recognize that others may have different beliefs than you and that not everyone is religious.

The Rules of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Programs

Participants are not forced to reveal their names or identify as "alcoholics.” Regarding sharing and working together, AA groups want participants to feel at ease and acknowledge that everyone progresses at their own pace.

How Do Virtual AA and NA Meetings Work?

For online meetings, members discuss and speak via video conferencing or writing on a message board. The chairperson of an online AA meeting will take the role of directing the session. Because the role of the chair is rotated among the group's members, no one is left to bear the weight of leadership alone.

Group leaders will share their AA virtual meeting list and provide the other necessary directions for participants to log in to participants. Some of the other most commonly used tools for facilitating the coming together of online AA groups are Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, and conference calls.

Why Did Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Switch to Online?

Since the 1930s, AA leaders have been aware of the need to extend their outreach to people in recovery and their loved ones. So they created books, movies, and audio programs throughout the globe to spread their message. Eventually, as technology progressed, remote residents and those who couldn't make it to the meeting exchanged letters, emails, and phone calls.

Many people may now attend online AA meetings thanks to the internet and the necessity of meeting virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

COVID-19's Safety Precautions

A spike in demand for AA meetings online occurred after the pandemic hit. The General Service Office (GSO) of AA does not have any regulations or instructions that apply to AA meetings. Many municipal rules and legislation necessitated that all AA meetings be shut down. Luckily, online meetings in AA allowed members to continue their recovery even when attending in-person meetings was no longer an option due to safety concerns.4

Many AA members are returning to meetings in person now that most people can get COVID-19 vaccines. But even though people can meet in person, this new development means that many people still prefer to use technology.

The Benefits of Online AA Meetings

Many individuals find the idea of conducting AA meetings online to be beneficial. Virtual AA meetings provide many advantages, including the ability to attend even if you don't have mobility. Those who have had their license suspended because of excessive drinking will appreciate this option as well.  

Additional benefits will be detailed below.

AA Meetings Online

Open Attendance

Attendance is open to all, even to those who reside in outlying locations; you can even attend international AA meetings online if you so wish, or if you have a family member in another country and want to support them via Zoom. Recovery no longer needs to be hindered by the fact that a person was far away.

Accessibility

Many individuals find it difficult to stick to a strict meeting schedule because of their job or personal commitments. It's more convenient to access 12-step programs online as you may do so from the comfort of your home.

Co-occurring conditions often accompany alcohol addiction. Those who suffer from social anxiety will benefit from it too. If you are anxious, you may attend an open AA meeting online if meeting in person is too much at first.

Find Out More About Alcoholics Anonymous Virtual and In-Person Meetings at Soledad House

Whether you need treatment for alcoholism or mental health issues, Soledad House is here to serve you. Our treatment programs include AA meetings as part of our effort to provide holistic care. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us to understand the addiction treatment services, facilities, and mental health programs we provide.

Contact Soledad House to Learn More

Our team is standing by to discuss treatment options with you. Your call is completely confidential and no obligation is required.