AA Zoom Meetings

July 11, 2021

By Andy F

Categories: AA meetings

The New Normal

It is becoming increasingly likely that COVID-19 is here to stay. The coronavirus has mutated several times already. New variants will undoubtedly emerge. As a species, we must learn to adapt. On a global scale, living with Covid has become the new normal. Some scientists believe that the coronavirus will become as common as the flu.

How will Covid affect AA? How will the fellowship adjust to this new reality? Many of my buddies believe the fellowship will never be the same again. Like the rest of the human species, it must find ways to avoid contact with the virus. Alcoholics in recovery are fortunate indeed. We have the technology for online meetings. Zoom meetings are keeping millions of us sober and safe.

Face-to-face meetings

The new Delta variant is sweeping across the world. The rate of infection has doubled in many countries. Vaccination programs are now in full swing. Many people have already had two doses. This new confidence in the vaccines has lulled many alcoholics into a false sense of security.

Physical meetings are gradually reopening. We are by no means out of the woods yet. Sadly, many members refuse to wear masks at meetings. They are exposing older members to an increased risk of infection. Many have preexisting health conditions. One must wonder how safe they will be going back to ordinary meetings.

Of course, it is every member’s choice at what kind of meetings they feel most comfortable. People that I have spoken to miss the physical contact with other alcoholics. They think that face-to-face contact is essential to their recovery. One old-timer recently shared that unity and fellowship are sadly missing on the Zoom platform.

Initially, I felt the same way. Somehow, it felt preferable to be physically in the same room as other alcoholics. I thought this was the only way AA could work its magic. The harsh truth is that the world has now become a different place. The fellowship also has had to adapt.

Mask-wearing and the AA group conscience

Recently, my local meeting had a group conscience. We discussed one specific issue. Should the wearing of masks at meetings be mandatory? Some felt that a vote to make mask-wearing a requirement violated the third tradition:

 “The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.” 

The group voted that wearing masks at meetings should not be mandatory. Consequently, very few people wear masks. Being in my late 60s, I felt very uncomfortable with this. I have health issues that put me in the high-risk category. As an individual member, I have to respect the group’s conscience.

A personal and informed choice

I had to make a choice. I decided to withdraw from my home group and go to Zoom meetings. Initially, I was concerned I would not get support from face-to-face meetings. Was my friend the old-timer, right? Can the healing power of meetings be diluted by attending virtual meetings?

Was the difference of opinion about wearing masks at meetings affecting AA Unity? Of course, it has! Sadly, mask-wearing has become a contentious issue the world over. It is causing resentment and division. Let’s face it; the unity of the fellowship is vital to AA’s survival.

“We are not cured of alcoholism” (BB Page 85)

I have lived with alcoholism for long enough to know an essential fact about my illness. The plain truth is that I cannot afford the luxury of separating myself from other alcoholics. I have to treat the mental and spiritual aspects of my illness daily.

Left to my own devices and isolated from AA, my ego-driven thinking will soon start becoming the dominant voice in my head. When this happens, I know that I am “heading for trouble.” (BB p 85) Invariably, I began to deteriorate mentally and spiritually, which always happens when I revert to my well-practiced role of the lone ranger.

The truth about AA Zoom meetings

With a heavy heart, I went back to Zoom meetings. The Delta variant was running wild. It felt like I had no other choice. Then, a miracle happened. An old friend in the fellowship contacted me. My AA buddy is Polish, and I’m a second-generation Pole. I have always remembered my parents’ language. Like me, Marek has been sober for many years. He told me about three Polish-speaking Zoom meetings I may want to try.

I went to all three. I was very pleasantly surprised. Despite being online, the Polish online meetings were the strongest and healthiest meetings I had attended for a long time. Everyone at these meetings had sponsors and was actively engaged in the steps’ work. The commitment to recovery and spiritual growth was inspirational.

Newcomers are gently pulled into the center of the AA bed and lovingly looked after. What was also very encouraging was that there was no trace of hardcore AA fundamentalism. I immediately turned all three of them into my new home groups.

A powerful virtual AA message on Zoom

I then realized that although attending physical meetings is fantastic, it’s a luxury I can’t afford now. The other important question is, do physical meetings treat the illness more effectively than online meetings? As I discovered, not necessarily so.

The power of example and remaining teachable to the program’s suggestions has inspired me. I have to be in meetings where members are living in the solution. I thrive in meetings where everyone has a sponsor and is committed to working the steps. 

It doesn’t matter if the meetings are face-to-face or online. I learned a long time ago in AA; it’s a strong message of recovery that keeps me well. Following Good Orderly Direction (Acronym for GOD) is what keeps me in “fit spiritual condition” (BB page 85)

I won’t be going back to face-to-face meetings anytime soon. When I was a practicing drunk, I took risks that threatened my life every day, which was the self-destructive nature of my alcoholism. Today, I love life too much. I have no wish to end up on a ventilator with Covid 19.

What are your thoughts about Zoom meetings? Are they here to stay? With the new normal, will face-to-face meetings gradually become a thing of the past?

In fellowship,

Andy F

Please Share

Facebook Twitter WhatsApp