AA Meetings Online: Can They Help?

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It’s no secret that AA meetings are beneficial to recovery. These meetings are where questions are answered, fears are confronted and relationships are built. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to attend AA meetings in person. Some individuals live in remote locations without access to meetings, while others may not be able to drive on their own. Also, some recovering addicts may have AA meetings near them but be too anxious to attend them in person. No longer do these barriers have to stand in the way of getting help. With AA meetings online, all the advantages of traditional in-person meetings are delivered in an online format.

There are three ways to get started with AA meetings online.

Email Recovery Meetings

These meetings cover a variety of topics in a public mailing list and email format. Email recovery meetings are ideal for recovering addicts who want to learn more about each of the 12 Steps, what happens before and after the meetings and gender-specific information.

Chat Meetings

Chat meetings follow a traditional chat room format. They are open 24 hours a day, which is helpful for recovering addicts who need someone to talk to you at any given hour. Registration is required, but otherwise chat meetings are easy to attend and offer the support that a recovering addict may not be receiving elsewhere.

Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are a bit more structured than chat meetings and feature a forum coordinator or moderator. These forums are excellent because they break topics down into small segments, such as forums for newcomers, sponsorship and the 12 traditions.

AA Group Meetings

In addition to email recovery meetings, chat meetings and discussion forums, there are also e-AA groups that follow the same format as a traditional AA meeting. There are a number of recovering addicts in the group, each with a name and story. Newcomers can read about these stories, helping them feel connected to each person in the group. Some addicts have been recovered for years, while others are new to the group. The important part is that each person is working toward lifelong recovery and sharing their experiences along the way.

By signing up for e-AA, those in recovery also have access to newsletters, a sobriety calculator and ebooks. These materials are beneficial for all recovering addicts, even those who attend in-person meetings. Yet for those who feel disconnected because of their location, lack of transportation or other personal matters, online AA meetings are the perfect compromise. At the end of the day, it’s about finding a group of people who you can relate to, share experiences with and offer support and advice as you all work toward long-term sobriety. These interactions on any level are vital, and attending AA meetings online is far better than remaining isolated.

Who are Online AA Meetings Best For?

There are many people who can benefit from online AA meetings:

  • Those who cannot drive
  • Those without transportation
  • Those who live in remote locations
  • Those with extreme anxiety
  • Those who are self conscious
  • Those who require additional support outside of traditional AA meetings

It’s important to note that even in an online format, the Internet does not guarantee a total level of anonymity. If you want to keep a low profile, remember to use the same smart practices as with other Internet interactions. It’s important to open up, be honest and share your personal experiences to get the most from AA, but some individuals believe that they will remain completely anonymous if they stay online, which isn’t entirely true.

You should also prepare yourself for joining in online discussions, as there are terms and jargon that is used in the chat rooms to allow for easier typing and saved space. There are also guidelines to follow, just as there are in traditional settings, such as by honoring each person’s time to talk.

Who are Online AA Meetings NOT For?

AA meetings online have their advantages, but they are unstructured compared to face-to-face meetings. For newly recovering addicts, the atmosphere may be too unstructured. Also, you can’t replicate the importance of person to person interaction, which is crucial in the beginning stages of recovery. These individuals must re-learn how to establish healthy relationships that are built on trust and honesty. Having a sponsor is also a significant step in the healing process, and sponsors and sponsees can learn a lot about each other from body language and visual cues. For individuals just out of treatment, in-person AA meetings are still best.

Still, for individuals with barriers, online AA meetings can offer the support and advice that is so desperately needed during the recovery process. For more information on online AA meetings, visit www.e-aa.org.