At a recent open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous — the 86-year-old international peer-support recovery program, which opens some of its meetings to the general public — more than 75 people attended, many expressing powerful human vulnerabilities. It was nothing new for those familiar with the popular 12-step program. But felt especially poignant due to where it took place: on the videoconferencing Zoom, because of the ongoing pandemic.
Virtual AA meetings are being embraced by many who have found unexpected perks when it comes to their recovery. (Photo: Getty Images)
“Every minute feels like an hour,” a five-months-sober California-based man shared of his struggle, as many nodded. A woman in New Jersey, on day seven of her sobriety and on the edge of tears, said, “I passed my favorite liquor store today, and I came so frigging close to stopping.”
At the start of the meeting, a U.K.-based man had shared his personal story at length, on occasion of hitting his 30-day sobriety milestone, and the faces in each and every square appeared mesmerized. When he finished speaking, the Las Vegas-based meeting leader thanked the man for his 30 days.
“It’s wonderful you were able to do it here,” he said. “It just goes to show you Zoom works… I love hearing people getting sober on Zoom. It’s the future for AA, I think.”
While early pandemic shutdowns caused panic and anxiety for so many people in 12-step programs due to their reliance on in-person meetings to stay sober — sometimes as many as one or several per day — AA quickly showed itself to be master of the pivot, with many of the program’s estimated 2 million devotees finding themselves shocked, happily so, by how connected they’ve still felt to the fellowship. They now sing the many praises of remote meetings and, like the Las Vegas meeting leader,