Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the many tools available to individuals recovering from substance abuse. It provides an opportunity to interact with others who are experiencing the same thing you are, right in the trenches with you. AA is a large organization, with more than 115,000 groups around the world. It’s been shown to be a successful tool for those working on themselves in recovery. The organization claims up to 75 percent of its members abstain from use, though it doesn’t track these numbers due to the anonymity expected here.
As effective as it is, many people want the easiest option possible for getting care. That’s why so many online AA meetings are now available. Are they safe? Are they the best option for you as you work on your recovery?
What Do AA Groups Provide?
Traditional AA groups involve anywhere from several people to large groups (depending on the format) coming together in privacy to talk about their experiences, thoughts and struggles as they abstain from using alcohol. Going to an in-person meeting offers many benefits, including personal interaction with people who understand exactly how you feel. It also creates opportunities for you to develop confidence in yourself as you share openly.
These groups provide several key benefits including:
- A safe space to share your thoughts
- Privacy in opening up about what you are going through
- An immediate helping hand to encourage you to not drink
- Support for dealing with life after abstaining, such as finding a job and handling personal relationships
- A way to experience strength, encouragement and companionship, many times leading to true friendships
These meetings allow you to share as much or as little as you need. They are meant to be comfortable but also encouraging. Led by a recovering alcoholic or a therapist, they generally center around the 12-step program, aiming to help people continue to work on their recovery.
Online AA Meetings
Online AA meetings now make it possible for people to log into a forum or chat group to get this type of help. These meetings are virtual, which means you can still interact with others in the group, but you’re not located in the same area. These meetings typically offer the same focus and goals and are often based around the same 12-step program you may find locally.
Online meetings are growing in popularity for many reasons. At the heart of this is the demand for fast, nearly immediate support when needed. It is also more convenient and comfortable to log into a web chat from home than to go out to a local meeting. Online groups also help to take away some of the personal aspects of the process.
What Makes the AA Online Meeting Different?
Online meetings are a bit different in terms of what they can offer to you. They still provide the openness and communication you may need, but they lack any of the physical aspects, such as getting a hug from someone who understands what you are facing. There’s sometimes also a loss of local focus, depending on where the group is located. This may limit the opportunities for you to share resources and support available within the local community.
Consider a few differences in online AA meetings that may make them less desirable in terms of the quality of the meeting outcome.
- There’s less personal interaction, which may be a bad thing for those who need someone to recognize they need immediate help.
- There’s a limited local focus in many groups.
- Many offer far fewer connections. You may not develop a relationship with someone you could call later if you need help.
- Online meetings may be too full, making it hard for everyone to get a chance to participate.
- Being online, some people may not take them as seriously and commit fully to participating.
Consider a few of the advantages they can offer over the traditional in-person meeting:
- They are readily available at any time, even on the go. This makes them more accessible to those who may be thinking about relapse.
- For some people, being online and at a distance may allow them to feel more at ease and relax. This may allow them to open up more.
The bottom line here is that going to an online AA sponsor or meeting is better than no meeting at all, but it can’t replace the care you need in person.
AA Meetings Alone — Not a Solution to Addiction
The most important thing to understand about online AA meetings or any type of AA meeting is that it is not a solution to addiction. Every person benefits from seeking out a licensed professional who can help you thoroughly understand your addiction to alcohol. This includes providing you with helpful tools and resources to stop drinking. These professionals work closely with you to address your physical dependency and other health matters.
They also provide you with a strong opportunity to understand why you are battling this addiction. Many AA meetings don’t have a therapist on-site or people who can spot a relapse risk fast enough to offer a solution for it. That is where therapy is also important.
Many people who use groups need additional care. It is not safe for those who need detox to simply go to an AA meeting or log into an AA meeting online. Though this is the first step, detox is critical to giving you a true chance at recovery.
In all situations, men and women who have an alcohol addiction will find it is not effective to attend meetings alone. It can be dangerous to your well-being if you fail to see success in the AA meeting. You may feel it’s impossible to get clean. That’s not the case, and your counselor can help you through it. Keep in mind that in-person AA meetings are not a substitute for rehabilitation, and online AA meetings are not a substitute for in-person AA meetings.
It’s Easy to Find a Meeting in Person
In most communities, a number of AA meetings are available. There are usually options available for mornings, evenings, weekends and much more. You can find them very close to where you live or, if you prefer, in a community 20 minutes away. To find a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting happening near you, visit the AA.org website.
When you couple attending AA meetings with traditional rehab care, your chances of success increase. Doing this in-person can offer the change you need.
Find Help for Alcohol Addiction at FHE Health
Substance abuse disorders including alcohol addiction can be life-changing, but FHE Health offers comprehensive treatment programs including detox to support your needs. To learn more about program options or to speak to a compassionate counselor right away, call us at (833) 596-3502. If you need immediate help, we are available 24/7 to provide support to you.