Guide To Virtual AA Meetings
Do you have a drinking problem? If so, one popular option to help you recover is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It’s a support group where members meet together regularly and share their struggles with each other. AA has helped lots and lots of people suffering from alcoholism, and many of them stay sober in the long term.
Nowadays, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, AA is restricted from face-to-face meetings. But that shouldn’t stop you, as AA groups across the country continue to meet regularly with the help of technology. As virtual meetings have become the new normal, AA is also adapting.
What do AA groups use to meet virtually?
Just like schools, businesses, and government agencies, AA has come online. They meet through Zoom, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, or other online meeting apps.
The official AA administration does not require groups to meet using one specific platform. Each group is free to use whatever it sees fit. Some would even use telephone conferencing, chat groups, or email, depending on the group’s needs.
If you already belong to an AA group that used to meet physically, check with either your group moderator or sponsor to know how you would meet online. If you’re not tech-savvy, don’t worry. Your sponsor or moderator can also help you with the technical bits. Your techie members could also be of help.
How do I find a virtual AA group?
If you haven’t attended AA yet, your only option as of now is to join a virtual group. Thankfully, there are a lot of them you can choose from. The AA intergroup website gives you a full directory of more than 1,000 online AA meetings around the world.
On the website, you can browse the full listing of AA groups, and you may join any group you think is best for you. You can even shop around, exploring how different groups work and the kinds of members they have.
You can even join international AA meetings if you like. The website lists meetings held in other countries adjusted for your timezone.
Most clubs meet through Zoom, but others also have phone and email options. Different groups also have different schedules. Some groups meet more often than others. Consider the schedule too when choosing a virtual AA group.
Why should I join a virtual AA group?
If you struggle with alcoholism, your greatest triggers may be isolation and boredom. In this time of a pandemic, the threat of isolation is even greater as nearly everyone is mandated to stay at home. Thus, you need a way to avoid being alone and being bored at home. Joining a virtual AA group is one nice way of achieving that.
Even if boredom and isolation isn’t a problem, joining a virtual AA group is your only option these days if you want to be part of this support network. Physical meetings are still tightly regulated, so your best choice is to join them online.
If you’ve selected a group already, here are some tips to maximize your virtual AA meetings.
Choose a quiet environment at home
Background noises are quite distracting in any virtual meeting. That’s why you should go to a relatively quiet room of your house while the meeting is ongoing. You can also request family members or housemates to keep it down while you’re in the meeting.
If you have a noise-canceling microphone, use it. That way, when you talk, the mic won’t pick up as much of the sound coming from the outside. This is not a requirement, though. If you don’t have a noise-canceling mic or headphones, it’s not a problem. You can still join the meeting.
Mute yourself when it’s not your turn to speak
As a courtesy to the person speaking, put yourself on mute while he talks. That way, the speaker won’t hear anything distracting from your end.
Only unmute yourself when it’s your turn to share. Before you speak, it’s a good idea to check with everyone if they can hear you. Otherwise, if you realize a bit too late that you’re still muted, you’ll have to repeat what you’ve said.
Turn on your video as much as possible
Another common courtesy in online meetings is to show your face on screen. That way, the moderator and your fellow members will know that you’re actually present and paying attention. Also, it’s nice for your fellow members to see your face. Some of them will even be glad that you show yourself.
Another tip: Look straight into the camera whenever you’re speaking. It’s like making full eye contact with your audience. You’ll look more genuine that way.
Do not record the meeting
Virtual AA meetings should still retain the “anonymous” part. With that, what you say in the meeting should stay in the meeting. Do not record screen-capture any part of it. This is also to protect the anonymity of your fellow members.
Avoid distracting gestures while the meeting is ongoing
When your video is on, mind your facial expressions and hand motions. You don’t want to do anything funny or inappropriate on camera while other members are watching. It’s easy to be tempted with doing these things when you’re at home, so be more aware of yourself. Think of it like this: If you won’t do something in public, don’t do it in a virtual meeting.
Avoid talking to other members using the chat box
Most online meeting apps have a chat box. You can use it to either send a message to everyone or to one member of the group privately. Chatting is useful in some situations, like if you need to tell everyone that your mic isn’t working and you have to fix it first.
But in other cases, chat can be another distraction. Avoid using the chat box for unnecessary banter. Most of all, do not use the chat to make unwarranted comments on the person speaking.
Once more, treat the virtual meeting as you would an in-person AA meeting.