Online Meetings And Forums Give Recovery A New Dimension

I’m fortunate enough to live in an area often referred to as the “Recovery Capitol of the World.” It’s hard to find a place in southeastern Palm Beach County that is more than five minutes away from some kind of 12-step meeting, and there are dozens — perhaps as many as a hundred — treatment and recovery facilities within 15 miles of where I sit, from medical detox like Sunrise, to primary treatment centers, to halfway and sober houses. There are at present 289 AA meetings a week — just AA — and that's not counting the North County area, where there are plenty more.  I’m not going to count up all the Narcotics Anonymous meetings (AA did theirs for me), but a quick look leads me to believe there are between 120 and 140 NA meetings per week around here.

And then we have the myriad other groups such as Al-Anon, Codependents Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Pill Addicts Anonymous, Adult Children Of Alcoholics — we could increase the list practically ad infinitum. Sure, some big cities have more meetings, but the concentration of meetings, treatment and newly-recovering people here is unlike anyplace else I know of. Alcoholics and other drug addicts in this area have no excuse for not getting the support they need, if they want it.

Which makes it really easy to forget that this is not the case in most parts of the country, and certainly not in most of the world.

For many years, recovering people had to rely on letters back and forth to other AA or NA members, or to the World Services offices, if they were — for example — crew aboard ships, in the military overseas, or residents of rural areas far from meetings. Later on, listserves and other early forms of online communication became available, followed by email and the Web. Today we have dozens of online meetings, forums and similar sites where recovering folks can find support for any kind of addiction imaginable.

Often we old-timers tend to resist such changes in the recovering community. That’s akin to the attitude of “Cold turkey worked for me; why should these kids go to detox.” Times change. Resources become available, and people take advantage of them. Just because I’d prefer to attend a face-to-face meeting, that doesn’t mean that the digital natives aren’t able to get support elsewhere. Heck, I’m part of that system myself, come to think of it, both here at Sunrise and on my own sites.

Bill and Doctor Bob pioneered the use of the telephone in recovery, and opportunities to connect long-distance have since improved a hundredfold. Does that mean I think electronic meetings are as good as face-to-face? No. I still believe that human interaction works best at close range. Even Skype, as great as it is, can’t convey the feeling and compassion that comes from a look and a nod across a meeting room, or from a hug. But I do think that alcoholics and other addicts who fail to avail themselves of online connections with other recovering people are missing out on some of what present-day recovery has to offer.

Why not join an online forum, and maybe get involved in an online group? It’s convenient, and you might help someone who needs it — maybe even yourself.

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  1. Great article. I am a part of a group called Women for Sobriety (WFS). I have been attending regular daily meeting for about a month. Granted I don’t see these women face-to-face, but I do get heard! I also am getting the help I need and support too. I highly suggest anyone who doesn’t want to go to AA, to consider the online help options. By no means, is it a “cop-out”. In fact, I am happy to meet women all over the world who are fighting the same battle as me. Its a great feeling. I am feeling successful in this journey.

    Happy Holidays,

  2. While it is no doubt true that the online meetings and fellowship are all SOME people need, it’s hard to know ahead of time if we are indeed those people. Sometimes when the urge to drink or use arises at 3 AM, we need to talk immediately, not when we can find someone online. At those times, the ability to make a phone call or meet for coffee can be the difference.

    I went through a period of believing that I didn’t need AA. I finally had to admit that I just thought I was different. I think careful examination of our motivation is essential. That said, good luck on your journey, and

    Keep on keepin’ on!

    Also, see my remarks to Jen, below.

  3. Jose martinez says:

    I agree the internet has been a great resource for me as I am disabled it is not always possible for me to get out and most meetings in my area are a distance away.I have found that “In the rooms” have meeting at all hours and all manner of other support groups. I have also been able to connect with various other people in recovery as well as other counselors, It has enabled me to join a wider community of people that would not other wise have been available to me.I would highly recommend for others to do like wise, it is never a replacement for face to face contact but it does have great benefits.

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