How Effective are Online AA Meetings and How to Find Them
Table of Contents
What Are AA Meetings?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international fellowship of people who struggle with drinking. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements, and membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about their drinking problem.
At AA group meetings, the AA program, as outlined in the renowned Twelve Steps, is discussed. There are several types of group meetings:
At open speaker meetings, AA members describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to AA, and how their lives have changed as a result of AA. At open discussion meetings, one member speaks briefly about their drinking experience and then leads a discussion on AA recovery or any drinking-related problem brought up.
Closed discussion meetings work the same as open discussion meetings but are only attended by AA members or anyone who may have a drinking problem. Lastly, step meetings are for discussion of one of the Twelve Steps.
How Do Online AA Meetings Operate
Each group makes its own rules, but in general, online meetings follow the agenda of in-person meetings. The same traditions and principles of in-person meetings apply: anonymity, no recording or taking pictures, no profanity, etc.
The group sets up the meeting date and time, gets the meeting ID and access code, and then sends that information to all of the group members. The AA website aa-intergroup.org has an online directory that anyone looking to attend an online meeting can browse based on meeting type (e.g., video, chat, etc.), language, gender, age, topic, location, day, and time.1
Learn More Here
Why Are There Online AA Meetings
How Effective are Online AA Meetings?
In online AA meetings, groups stick to AA’s single purpose – recovery from alcoholism, protection of the anonymity of their members, and avoidance of affiliation with or endorsements of outside enterprises. Online groups still use the Twelve Traditions of AA, thus maintaining unity and ensuring their ability to be there for the sick and suffering individual who reaches out for help.
It may be too early to know exactly how effective online meetings are, but AA groups have certainly increased the number and frequency of online meetings. Online meetings maintain the fellowship aspects of support groups – and that is better than nothing.
The Benefits of Online AA Meetings
Members Without Transportation
Members in Remote Areas
Members with Social Anxiety
The Negatives of Online AA Meetings
Members Feeling Less Accountable
Some people in recovery may rely on in-person interactions for accountability. They may depend on the regular attendance of others to bolster their attendance.
A downside of having so many online meetings to choose from is that those who attended a local meeting regularly may start attending different meetings. With online meetings, rather than being accountable for showing up, they are accountable for logging on.3
Concerns for Security and Anonymity
While there may be concerns about security and anonymity, most e-mail and chat groups are closed groups, and last names are generally not required for members. Online groups typically monitor who enters meetings, and attendees may alter their names and hide their videos.
The fundamental principles and traditions of AA are upheld in all member communications using electronic media. However, members who accept electronic-based service positions do sacrifice some of their privacy, and there is the potential for their information to be hacked via online services.3
Lack of Emotional Connection
At in-person AA meetings, people can connect emotionally – and through physical connections, like hugs and handshakes. Many groups hold hands while reciting the prayer at the end of each meeting. There is also time before and after in-person meetings for people to mingle and socialize, but that time doesn’t exist when using Zoom.
It would be wrong to say that there is no emotional connection in online AA meetings – but it’s not the same, especially since only one or two people can speak at a time in an online chat room.
How to Find AA Meetings Near You
Through the Official AA Website
Through a Clinic
Other Peer Support Groups
- Build and maintain motivation to change
- Cope with urges to use
- Manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors effectively without addictive behaviors
- Live a balanced, positive, and healthy life.
Moderation Management (MM) is a free behavioral change program and national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes.
MM bases its philosophy on the assumptions that:
- People should be offered a choice of behavioral change goals (unlike AA, which is abstinence-only).
- Action should be taken to cut back or quit drinking before drinking problems become severe.
- Harm reduction is a worthwhile goal, especially when the total elimination of harm or risk is not a realistic option.
- Moderation programs shorten the process of realizing whether moderation (as opposed to total abstinence) is possible for each individual by providing defined guidelines about the limits of moderate alcohol consumption.
MM emphasizes taking personal responsibility for choosing and maintaining one’s path whether that be moderation or abstinence. MM’s Steps of Change guides members through the process of changing their behavior. Members are encouraged to help each other. MM also has an online drink tracker, ABSTAR, which can provide accountability to members by posting their goals and results on the public ABSTAR page (there is also a private page).6
If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.