For people seeking an accessible recovery community, online Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step support groups may be helpful.
Since the pandemic, there has been an increase in online healthcare options to address growing mental health needs in America.
Though many treatment providers have returned to in-person, there is still a need for online options, including among people who live in underserved communities, have disabilities, or don’t have transportation.
Virtual AA meetings help meet that need. Some AA members also just prefer online meetings to in-person meetings.
What To Expect During An Online AA Meeting
In general, you can expect the same type of AA meeting remotely as you would in person. Some do not require use of your computer’s camera or mic, and some are available through phone call or text.
Virtual meetings can be helpful or preferred for people who are more introverted, live in a remote area with fewer meeting options, need schedule flexibility, or have physical or mental health barriers that could make meeting in person a challenge.
People can also join online meetings for extra connection while in a hospital or inpatient addiction treatment setting on top of standard treatment.
The 12-Step Meeting Process
Most meetings begin with a leader or chairperson speaking and presenting a topic. Then, members can speak in relation to the topic.
Depending upon the meeting, different steps from “the big book” of Alcoholics Anonymous may also be a focus.
Rules for how meetings are to be run stem from the 12 traditions of AA, which outline how the group and members should operate, including why members remain anonymous.
The only requirement to join as a member is to be a person who seeks recovery from alcohol addiction.
Virtual AA Meeting Requirements
You will need a computer, tablet, or phone that can connect to the internet and whatever meeting place app that the group chooses to use, such as Teams, Zoom, or Discord.
You also may be able to connect to meetings through your phone by dialing the number provided.
Most of these apps are very easy to set up and use via computer, tablet, or cellphone. Set up often consists of simply and quickly downloading the app.
People new to Zoom meetings or other virtual meetings will likely need to create a login and then log in to the platform before being able to accept the meeting invite.
Finding AA Meetings
You can find an AA meeting to join by searching online for meetings that are local to you. Databases can be found through the AA website, AA chapter websites, and addiction recovery centers.
You may also be referred to an AA meeting as an outpatient treatment option or for aftercare following the completion of a treatment program.
People seeking AA reading materials for online meetings can find many available online, along with apps that can support you as you work the 12 steps.
Virtual AA Meetings
Virtual AA meetings can be found in a similar fashion to in-person AA meetings. City chapter websites, such as the Los Angeles Central Office of AA (LACOAA), have a list of both in-person and online meeting options.
The AA Intergroup website also has a list of online meetings with a variety of topics, from spiritual gatherings to peer support and meetups.
In the search bar, you can type in your city or state and find the options available local to you. You’ll also find international virtual meeting options.
The Two Main Types Of AA Meetings
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, whether face-to-face or through phone or video conferencing, tend to be two types. These are closed meetings or open meetings.
Closed meetings are group meetings that only offer attendance to people looking to recover from alcohol addiction. This includes beginners in AA and veterans of the program.
Open meetings extend that invitation to others, so family members, friends, and other loved ones can sit in and provide support or observe the meetings as they progress.
On a side note, you may also hear the term “AA groups,” which refers to group members from AA meetings who meet separately to work on steps together.
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Published on January 17, 2024
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- Alcoholics Anonymous — What to Expect at an A.A. Meeting
- LACOAA — Meetings
- Online Intergroup: Alcoholics Anonymous — Meeting Directory
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Find Treatment