There is a revolution happening in Alcoholics Anonymous. AA has zoomed into online meetings in response to social distancing and self-quarantining guidelines.
With the rush to digital conferencing, millions of people now work from home or are using the Zoom app for school purposes. Online meetings, Zoom in particular, have literally taken over the 12-step recovery world.
Digital support groups are a real Godsend for AA. It is keeping people in recovery connected and attending meetings regularly during the virus crisis. AA participants rely on these digital meetings for support and continued recovery.
In lieu of meetings in churches, lodges, clubs and other brick and mortar locations, many AA groups are meeting on Zoom. It is an easy to use computer and smartphone app that is keeping much of the country digitally connected.
The virus has served as a timely segway into the digital world for Alcoholics Anonymous.
Online meetings’ time has 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 3 months.
How It Works
Zoom works on mobile as well as desktop/laptop devices. Here’s how to participate:
- have a numerical link to the meeting you wish to attend (usually sent by email)
- click the link prior to the meeting’s starting time
- log-on, adjust the microphone and video settings
Creating a Zoom account is free. If you need a meeting to go 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 “AA meetings in a city and or state” into any search engine. Facebook is another valuable resource for finding local online AA meetings as are local AA intergroup offices.
A vital part of AA’s mission is anonymity and many people are justifiably concerned about security and privacy relating to online meetings.
Passing the Basket
Rent and expenses need to be met during the virus crisis. Online meetings make passing the basket virtually impossible. There are alternative methods available including mailing a check to the local intergroup office or to the treasurer of a group.
Zelle is another method of making contributions to a group.
For the last 85 years, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings have been the heart and soul of the recovery process for countless people battling alcoholism. They are the core element of the AA program, for those who use 12-step support groups to maintain their hard won sobriety.
Attending By Phone
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 are bonded by a common struggle and a mission to help support each other’s sobriety and enrich their personal recovery from alcoholism.
When Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, they likely couldn’t have imagined virtual gatherings.
Zoom has come under fire for what some experts believe are lax security policies. Recent hacks has 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 new 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 big benefits of AA Zoom meetings is attending anywhere in the world, without leaving home. This is a unique opportunity to attend meetings 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 own Zoom AA meeting. San Francisco’s AA Intergroup published a how-to-guide for maximum Zoom privacy.
PBS News Special