Online AA meetings are structured in a similar way to in-person meetings. For the first few minutes, users enter the chat room, discussion board or email thread while other members greet them. At the end of the welcome period, members begin to voice their concerns as well as offer their personal stories of strength and hope to one another.
However, there are often mixed opinions about the experience. Some people enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to be able to conveniently connect with other AA members online; others, not so much.
Here, we lay out the pros and cons of virtual AA meetings.
For those who can’t make it to a face-to-face meeting for whatever reason, online meetings are a godsend. While they may not be suitable for everyone, here are a few reasons why they are beneficial to a number of those in recovery:
1. They’re excellent for those who can’t leave home.
If you don’t have a vehicle or are home-bound for some reason, an online AA meeting is an excellent alternative. You can conveniently enjoy as many meetings as you’d like without having to take one step out of your home.
2. They’re great for shy people.
If you tend to be shy or introverted, attending a community meeting may provoke some anxiety. An online meeting can give you a wonderful experience where you won’t have the “all eyes on you” feeling, allowing you to share more freely, be more vulnerable and honest. In turn, you can get more out of the conversations and grow in valuable ways.
3. Night owls can get support when they need it most.
If you’re a night owl or you run into temptation or cravings late at night when in-person meetings are not available, you’ll be able to find some support via online AA meetings. Online meetings happen all over the world at all hours of the night, so if you feel the need for some encouragement at 2 a.m., you can most likely find an online meeting to connect with others who can help you stay strong.
4. You get the chance to carry the message of sobriety.
Compared to not attending a meeting at all, joining an online AA meeting allows you to carry and pass on the legacy of recovery to those who are still suffering.
While online meetings are both helpful and convenient, face-to-face human interaction may still be the more valuable choice for others in recovery. Here are the common reasons why some do not find it helpful:
1. They can foster isolation.
Although you can connect with others through an online AA meeting, there are some who argue that it doesn’t carry the same weight as an in-person connection. While everyone has varying needs for social interaction, be on the lookout for isolation and the temptation of becoming a recluse. If possible, getting to a community meeting once in a while may be helpful in creating more intimate relationships.
2. They can be boring or overly opinionated.
As with community meetings, online meetings can be boring or heated with opinions. A good moderator can nip this in the bud, but there are times when some people can quickly veer off topic, talk too long or become too opinionated for other members’ comfort level. There may be less control over the situation in an online environment.
If you haven’t tried an online AA meeting yet, you have plenty of options. Step Chat, AA Chat Room and aa.alive.net are all good places to start. Find a meeting that suits your time frame, join and see how it can help supplement or change the way you go about your recovery journey.