Online AA Zoom Meetings Skyrocket

For the last 85 years, in-person Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings have been the heart and soul of its recovery process. They are a core element of the AA program for those who use these 12-step support groups to maintain sobriety.

Instead of meetings in churches, lodges, clubs, and other brick and mortar locations, many AA groups are now meeting on Zoom instead. Zoom is an easy to use computer and smartphone app that keeps much of AA and the country digitally connected.

With the rush to digital conferencing due to the Coronavirus, millions of people now work from home or use the Zoom app for school purposes. AA is now knee-deep into utilizing Zoom as an alternative format.

It is fast becoming an online revolution in AA. Tens of thousands of Zoom AA meetings have sprung up around the globe.

  • Since the middle of 2020, online Zoom meetings have taken over the 12-step recovery world.

Digital support groups are an absolute Godsend for AA. They are keeping those people in recovery connected and attending meetings regularly during the virus crisis.

The virus has served as a timely segway into the digital world for Alcoholics Anonymous.

Online AA meetings’ time seems to have arrived. Although the exact number of online AA meetings is unavailable, Zoom’s daily users jumped from 10 million to over 200 million in the past three months.

Zoom works on mobile as well as desktop/laptop devices. Here’s how to participate:

  • Have the numeric ID number and password to the meeting you wish to attend
  • Open the Zoom app on whatever device you’re using
  • log-on, adjust the microphone and video settings

Attending a meeting on a smartphone gives the user less visibility and options.

See Zoom’s FAQ page

You don’t need your free Zoom account to attend a meeting. However, like having your profile picture, some options are only available when you log in through your account.

Meetings are free too. However, for an appointment to run for more than 40 minutes, a monthly hosting fee of $15 is required. The www.zoom.us website offers step by step tutorials on how to get started.

To find meetings, start by typing “online AA meetings in a city and or state” into a search engine. Searching on Facebook is another resource for finding online AA meetings, as are local AA intergroup websites.

A vital part of AA’s mission is anonymity, and many people are justifiably concerned about security and privacy relating to online meetings. Using a fictitious name, a person can stay completely anonymous on a Zoom AA meeting if they choose.

Online meetings make passing the basket impossible. There are alternative methods available, including mailing a check to the local intergroup office or the treasurer of a group.

Zelle is another method of making contributions to a group.

There is an alternative method of accessing Zoom meetings. People who have limited internet access can call into Zoom meetings using the following procedure;

  • On a cell or landline, dial; 408 – 638 – 0968
  • At the prompt, enter the Zoom meeting ID and then press #
  • Disconnect from the meeting by hanging up

Traditionally, meetings have taken place in church basements and a multitude of other available spaces. Meeting types vary widely from gender-specific, speaker, big book, steps, and discussion type—most last one hour from start to finish.

Groups share a common struggle and a mission to help support each other’s sobriety and enrich their recovery from alcoholism.

When Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, they likely couldn’t have imagined virtual gatherings.

Security

Zoom has come under fire for what some experts believe are lax security policies. Recent hacks have sent officials at Zoom scrambling to make their platform more secure.

In response to criticism, engineers at the company have stopped developing any new features for the software. They have shifted their focus to tightening privacy and security protocols.

As of April 4th, 2020, all recent meetings must be password protected.

“Zoom takes its users’ security, privacy, and trust extremely seriously,” a spokesman told The Guardian. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working around the clock to ensure that hospitals, universities, schools, and businesses can stay connected.”

  • Zoom recently admitted their claim of “end to end encryption” was inaccurate
  • According to CBS, “zoom-bombing” by uninvited visitors hacking into meetings causes disruptions
  • Strong password protection prevents hackers.
  • There is a toolkit available to deal with unwanted visitors.

One of the significant benefits of AA Zoom meetings is attending anywhere globally, without leaving home. Worldwide attendance is a unique opportunity to attend sessions hosted in different parts of the country and world.

That said, it’s completely understandable to want to be among familiar faces. Someone can start their Zoom AA meeting. San Francisco’s AA Intergroup published a how-to-guide for maximum Zoom privacy.