Things have not been easy over this last year (and then some). With people being laid off, people getting sick, housing prices rocketing, and the state of the future of our world still somewhat unknown, taking care of yourself might have gotten placed on the back burner.
You may have fallen off and found that the stress of the last several months has caused you to seek alternate ways to fill your time and supply yourself with happiness.
Maybe you were attending meetings before the start of COVID and had a really great time being around like-minded individuals with whom you were able to share your experience, but then they all got put on pause due to the pandemic. If this disrupted your ability to attend AA meetings, you are not alone.
While discussion meetings in person can create a sense of fellowship where everyone shares a common problem, a hybrid or virtual meeting can serve the same purpose. The only requirement is to seek sobriety, while the group’s primary purpose is to stay sober in the process.
Luckily, like with many businesses and groups, the internet made it easier for people to connect and find time to meet again with their support groups. If you are lucky enough to have access to a smartphone or laptop device that can connect to the internet, the option of AA is still there for you.
Regardless of whether you have a drug addiction or substance abuse disorder, one type of meeting may be helpful over the other. Both in-person and online aa meetings offer self-supporting capabilities and the fellowship of people.
As more and more people become vaccinated, the ability to return to in-person AA meetings is more likely to happen. Still, not all people are going to be comfortable or ready to do so, and that’s OK! Masks are always an option if you choose to attend an in-person meeting.
If you want to learn more about how online AA meetings and in-person AA meetings compare, keep reading.
How Does Online AA Work?
Online AA was first started back in the 1990s with individuals who hosted their AA meetings via email. Online AA is overseen by the Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous (OIAA), a group of individuals who participate in AA meetings, just simply online.
The OIAA helps to regulate each online AA meeting, but the meetings are run by individuals within communities and groups so that you can find groups you fit into and can truly benefit from.
Online AA doesn’t just provide AA meetings; it also provides resources to members, general guidance and philosophies, and volunteers who are available 24/7 over email for assistance. You can typically access resources at any point in the day, which can be helpful for those with odd schedules or who need separate accommodations. Some meetings take place at a set time, so you have to be available, but you can be flexible with which meetings you attend.
Types of Online AA meetings
An online AA meeting is likely taking place at any given moment. This means that you often will find access to meetings and resources whenever you need them, no matter what time at night! The main kinds of online AA meetings that you will come across are:
- Smartphone conferences
- Video meetings (Zoom meeting with a meeting ID and meeting password)
- Message boards
You are allowed to talk about anything in these meetings that pertains to your recovery journey and your struggles with addiction. These communications are usually monitored and don’t accept negligent behavior, so even though it’s online, you should take it just as seriously as an in-person meeting!
You can choose to participate in a few kinds of online AA. Closed AA meetings are for AA members only and might feel more secure and private, especially if you are looking for a specific kind of community. There is the option to participate in Open AA meetings, which is where members outside of the AA community can sit in. This might include family and friends of people in AA or those who haven’t yet joined but are thinking about it and wanted to test it out.
Having so many options to choose from can make it really easy to try some out. You might not find that every meeting you attend is a good fit, but that’s what’s so great about online AA! There are plenty of meetings you can attend until you find the perfect fit.
Online AA vs. In-Person AA
The most obvious difference between online AA and in-person AA is that one happens strictly on the internet when it comes down to it. Online AA requires access to a device with the internet, while in-person AA expects that you can travel to and from your meetings. Each kind of AA has its pros and cons, and weighing them out could help you decide which is right for you.
Depending on what type of aa meeting you join, there may be an aa membership or dues to pay before you join.
If you are immunocompromised and cannot attend in-person meetings right now, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons to ensure you are getting the treatment you need.
You should consider the pros of online and in-person AA before ruling one or the other out. If you are worried that you won’t feel the same sense of community or pay attention to the meeting, let us put your mind at ease. It might take a little more effort to focus, but that can be worked on! If you are committed to recovery, anything is possible.
Pros of Online AA
- If you are immunocompromised, you still have access to AA without having to risk your health by attending in-person meetings.
- It is more accessible for people with certain disabilities, so you can attend without worrying about barriers.
- If you work “off hours”, you can still find time in your downtime to attend a meeting or speak with supportive peers.
- Have access to a community of people from all over the world. This could help you later on in life if you ever need assistance outside of your own community.
- More convenient, so no matter where you are, you will have access as long as you can connect to the internet.
- There is more anonymity online, especially if you are taking place in meetings that the people in your group aren’t local to.
- If you are worried about getting sick, social distancing in the comfort of your own home can be a big pro.
Pros of In-Person AA
- You can develop relationships with peers from your local community easier.
- It’s easier to stay focused and engage in a conversation when you are physically in front of others.
- Easier to be held accountable when you are facing people in person.
- It can help you to find sponsors easily.
- It helps you build a routine that you can maintain and focus on.
Just as there are pros, there are cons to both online AA and in-person AA, though they never are a bad idea. The cons are more focused on your accessibility and own comfort levels. It also depends on what you want to get out of the experience and your needs. Some people will do better in person than online, but understanding your options can help you make the most informed decisions!
Cons of Online AA
- You might not be close to where anyone you meet online lives, meaning your sense of community might not be felt on a physical level.
- You need to have access to email, a laptop, or a smartphone to best access online meetings. Without internet access, you won’t be able to attend online AA.
- Easier to be distracted when you are doing AA online at your own home.
Cons of In-Person AA
- Specifically, in these times, in-person AA could be risky if you are immunocompromised or closely associated with someone who is.
- You need access to transportation to get to and from the meetings.
- There might be set times for meetings in your area that you are unable to get to, due to work schedules or because of transportation.
Signing Up for AA Online
If you want to sign up for AA online, you are going to want to browse OIAA’s website and find out what meetings you might be interested in attending. You can easily find something that might fit with you because you can search by language, meeting time, and meeting type on their site. You will be asked to register for the meeting, and then when the time comes, you can log on with a link that the OIAA will send you.
It’s just as easy as that. If you want to start, and don’t think that in-person AA meetings are right for you at this moment, this is the best place to start. You can get started on your path to recovery as soon as right now!
Come To Soba When You Are Ready
Once you are at a point where you are comfortable meeting in-person, whether it be because of your nerves or COVID, Soba Recovery Centers will be waiting for you.
Once you have come to the point where you recognize your need for assistance, you can upgrade your AA meetings to inpatient services or intensive outpatient. Whatever it is that you need, Soba is here to help.
You might not be ready right now, and that’s why starting with online AA meetings is really great. See how they make you feel, and consider whether or not you might benefit from a more personalized approach to recovery. We will be here rooting you on!
Online Recovery Support Meetings Can Help Mitigate The Public Health Consequences Of Covid-19 For Individuals With Substance Use Disorder | NCBI
Social Network Variables In Alcoholics Anonymous: A Literature Review | NCBI