How AA Online Meetings Help Alcoholics Get Sober

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : December 08, 
2020 
| 4 Sources


aa online meetings

Can AA online meetings really help alleviate the problem of alcoholism in the US? The prevalence of binge drinking was 25.8% of adults. These numbers show that alcoholism and alcohol abuse are unfortunate common experiences among individuals who drink. 

With that being said, we can now look at how Alcoholics Anonymous meets can benefit someone struggling with alcohol addiction. Research has shown that the gains from participating are dependent on the members’ motivation and their desire to be sober. Not to mention, the opportunity to grow a sober support network which can have a positive influence on the alcoholic’s life. 

The motivation for recovery can come from a variety of sources such as wanting to improve family relationships or recognizing alcohol’s impact on your work. This means that being pushed to meetings by others is likely not going to be a long-lasting source of motivation.  

The Internet Age has changed how we go about our lives, and this is no different in the world of alcoholism recovery.

Alcoholic anonymous online meetings are becoming increasingly popular and opening up new ways in which the alcohol-dependent can manage his or her condition.

This innovation has facilitated the continuing dominance of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a global community of men and women who’ve suffered from drinking problems. It is now, more than ever, seen as the 'only' viable way to recover from alcoholism. Some research has confirmed that patients who participate in Alcoholic Anonymous do better than those patients who use other approaches.

In The Past We Had....

TRADITIONAL AA

Since its advent in 1935, Alcoholic's Anonymous, or AA as it is more commonly known, has been holding meetings where those addicted to alcohol can find support and accountability by talking to fellow alcoholics.

These meetings take place in private homes, churches and other meeting areas in just about any town across the country, as well as in most countries throughout the world.

And Today We Have....

ONLINE AA

In the mid-1980s, as home computers become the latest thing, the electronic version of the early telephone therapy began to grow.


In the beginning, Alcoholics Anonymous chat was cumbersome, limited to the crude BBS and email systems then available.

As the technology advanced, so did that of Alcoholic Anonymous online meetings until today when you can access an online meeting any time of the day or night. There are a lot of options for transitioning to video or phone meetings.

From instant live AA chat rooms to discussion forums dedicated to each of the Alcoholic's Anonymous 12 Steps, someone striving for sobriety can find others to reach out to.

 

It is important to keep in mind, that AA, whether it be online or offline, has ONLY a 5% success rate after 3 years. 

For alternatives to the AA/12 steps model, read AA alternatives

aa onlinePhoto by Nik Shuliahin

Traditional AA Meetings: How do They Work?

Attending Your First Meeting

Alcoholics Anonymous refers to individuals attending their first meeting as a “newcomer”. As a newcomer, an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting can seem, strange and intimidating at times. It is only natural to feel apprehensive about your first AA meeting.

In that apprehensiveness, know that you are not alone as many, if not most, members could relate to that feeling during their first meeting.

It takes time to get used to the language and ideas flying around an AA meeting, so my advice is to take it one step at a time. 

It will take a while to feel comfortable, do not expect to get into the flow after just a couple of meetings. 

Ask questions if you feel lost. There are resources available online that can give you a better understanding of AA slogans and acronyms.

More importantly, don't dismiss AA out of hand after one session just because it's 'weird' or you didn’t find it to be helpful. Everything seems weird the first time we do it. There are many different meetings that you can try out, each can have a different feel and message.

I encourage you to try as many different ones as you can. If you are limited with how many meetings you have locally, trying looking at the different online meetings available. Give it a chance and then, if it still doesn't do anything for you, move onto a different method of quitting drink.

What can make the first meeting less strange is to know what to expect at a meeting, so at least you're not surprised by the format, as there are a few different options.

Different Types of Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings

There are at least 4 different types of alcoholic anonymous meeting, each of which has a different format.

It is important to remember that each AA group decides on its way of doing things, so meetings vary in many ways, however, they roughly follow the structure outlined below.The 4 types of meeting are:

  • Discussion Meetings - These meetings start with the chairperson reading a passage, a thought or idea and then throwing the discussion open to the floor. People can then add their thoughts and experiences concerning the discussion topic and/or their alcoholism and recovery from it. Some groups choose to sit in a circle and give each member an option to speak if they are comfortable.
  •  Speaker Meetings - This is when a member of AA, who has a fair bit of sobriety under his or her belt, tells their story to the group. When the speaker has finished then, if there is time, members can add their thoughts and any similarities between their story and that of the speaker. Some find that speaker meetings are a good first meeting option since they can watch without feeling as though they need to speak.
  • Big Book Meetings - A passage or chapter is read from the big book by a chairperson or pre-appointed member of AA. Then other members comment on the passage. Sometimes each person at the meeting reads a passage from a chapter and then passes it onto the next person, and so on. Some groups will sit in a circle for these meetings as well. Sitting in a circle helps create sense of belonging, and gives you the opportunity to look everyone in the face. 
  • Step Study Meetings - As in the Big Book meeting, but in these the readings come from another text called "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" or "12 and 12". Then members share their experiences and views in light of the reading.

Common Threads in Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings 

Regardless on the type of meeting, there are certain elements that remain the same in most AA meetings: 

  • Introductions: When members of AA speak in a meeting they generally introduce themselves (even if they have known everybody in the room for a long time). The typical introduction is, "Hello, My name is ...., and I am an alcoholic". There are other variations on this such as, “I’m ...., and I'm a recovering alcoholic" and so on. Do not feel obliged to do this. It is common courtesy to say your name, but do not feel impelled to identify yourself as an alcoholic.
  • Chairperson: The chairperson is always a member of AA and usually does not have any relevant professional qualifications. Their only qualification usually is that they are a recovering alcoholic with some sober time. Any member of AA can be the chairperson of a particular meeting. This is something decided before the meeting begins.
  • Closing of The Meeting: Meetings can close in different but essentially similar ways. After the 12th tradition is read out (regarding respect for anonymity), in some places they will stand and end with the Lord's Prayer. In others they may form a circle hold hands and say the serenity prayer. Again, each group has their own routine, but this is something that you will catch onto after attending a few meetings.
  • Donations: Most meetings will pass around a plate or leave one at the front of the room. This is so you can donate to the running costs of that particular AA group. Do not feel you HAVE to give something. Donations can help cover any literature or books that the group offers to newcomers, the coffee provided or if there are any fees associated with the location of the meeting.
  • Rewarding Sobriety: When a member of AA has reached a certain milestone then their 'home group' (that is the AA group an alcoholic identifies as his or her home) will reward them with 'chips'. Chips are medals awarded for certain lengths of time of sobriety. So you can get a chip for being sober 24 hours (doesn't sound much, but it is) and one for being ten years sober. Each chip is a different color and is presented to the recipient by the chairperson of that particular meeting.

What Makes Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings Work?

The way that Alcoholic Anonymous meetings are able to work so effectively is because of a variety of different factors. Studies show that treatment providers could use a 12-step-based directive method to efficiently facilitate involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous and thus improve client outcomes.

Below is a list of some of the most common key factors that make this particular group such a successful option for alcoholic individuals to choose when they have set their heart and their mind on removing alcohol from their lives.

The common elements that alcoholics in the AA 12 step program commit to are....

1. Taking the first step of admitting that you indeed have a problem with the addiction of alcohol and that you need help in being able to successfully recover from the addiction.

2. Being able to let go and submit not just your will, but your entire life in the hands of God or other Higher Being that you are comfortable with.

3. Making any amends that need to be made with partners, friends, colleagues, and other individuals that you have hurt through the course of your addiction.

 4. Continuing to commit to abstinence of alcohol, following the principles that are learned in meetings and in the AA big book, and helping other individuals that are having problems that are caused from the addiction to alcohol.

How Can I Find a Meeting?

So you have read this far, lets now talk about how you can find a meeting near you. The AA website has you click on different locations to narrow down your area. The link above can be used for individuals in the United States and Canada.

If you live in a rural area, the other option would be online AA meetings. Please know that it is recommended that online meetings not replace regular in person meetings.

By attending online meetings, you miss out on the personal connection that you get from being in a room with other alcoholics. An A.A. meeting could take one of many different forms, but at any AA meeting, you would find other alcoholics talking about how their lives and personalities were affected by drinking, what they did to help themselves, and how they’re living their lives today.

You can read more about attending online AA meetings by clicking on the link.

Online Meetings: How Do They Work?

AA meetings online often work similarly to those alcoholic anonymous meetings in your local community – just the means of communicating are different. By participating in virtual meetings, group members could focus on Alcoholics Anonymous’ primary purpose: to help an alcoholic recover.

There are a number of different platforms available for meetings, and you are able to filter the search list by the platform used. Common platforms for online meetings are Google Hangouts/Meet, Zoom, and free conference calls.

Another option available would be email. Which you choose will all depend on your preference for which style of chat you are most comfortable with. Keep in mind that even though meetings are held online, they still protect and foster the principle of personal anonymity.

Similar to in-person meetings, it is encouraged that you try several meetings out to see what is a good fit for you. Try not to be discouraged by a negative experience or not feeling as though you fit in.

What's Good about Online AA Meetings? 

In the past, finding an online meeting was a difficult task. However, these days a quick Google search for “AA meetings online” will reveal a wealth of sites that can help you locate AA online meetings.

An additional option would be that some meetings offer a live meeting online. Groups that are unable to meet at their usual meeting places have begun to meet digitally. Asking about this at your local meeting would be a place to start with this option.

Looking for and finding an Alcoholics Anonymous online meeting is easy, and you will have no problem finding one. The tricky part is likely going to be finding the one that is a good fit for you.

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous are encouraged to still attend in-person meetings, as online meetings are not meant to serve as a replacement option. Some situations can make it challenging for members to attend a meeting. Examples of this would be:


Lack of childcare, Not having transportation, Meeting times conflict with work or class schedule, There is not a local meeting, Natural disasters or other serious events, Feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at local, in-person meetings


Many feel that in-person meetings offer more opportunities for members to form connections with other alcoholics. This can happen before the meeting begins or after the meeting concludes.

Either way, AA meetings online should be viewed as an additional tool for a person’s recovery. 

The official website that has the schedule for AA online meetings is: www.aaintergroup.org 

There are some definite pros to having the ability to access Alcoholic Anonymous online meetings.

With the nature of the internet, people can access a group around the clock, every single day. Since users are from all over the globe, you will almost always be able to find another soul to chat with. Often that is all that is needed to stave off the desire to pick up a drink – just talking about it and having the other person understand can be a huge relief.

Writing about your desires for a drink as well as your reasons for not wanting to give in to the urge is often a cathartic experience. That's why many counselors in alcohol rehab programs will recommend that you start a journal.

There is something about the act of writing it all down that can lift a weight from your mind as it gives you an outlet to explore feelings that could be hard to verbalize. Some find it easier to write about their addiction and their journey to healing than they do to actually talk about it.

It is also easier to not be self-conscious or embarrassed when you are not face-to-face with a bunch of strangers.

Online AA meetings can also give access to people who could not attend in-person meetings, because they are ill or too far away. 

Are there Downsides to Alcoholic Anonymous Online Meetings?

Yes, there are cons to online Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. For one, research shows there are inherent strengths and weaknesses associated with any form of online learning. 

For some people, it's that contact with other people that is what they need to keep them going. It is far too easy to shut oneself off from human contact and do everything from behind a computer screen. This could lead to unhealthy emotional states in a recovering alcoholic that could end in depression or backsliding into drinking again.

Another major con that should at least be considered is the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are supposed to be completely anonymous – there is no record of members or attendees and you only have to give your first name.

While on the face of it, you may think it's just as anonymous on the web but that's simply not the case.

With most, if not all Alcoholic Anonymous online meetings, you will need to register with the site hosting the meetings. Most online AA meetings will only ask you for a first name but with all of them you must give an email and somewhere in the site's database is a record of your IP address. These two things can be used to find your identity within a matter of a few minutes.

Style of AA Online Meetings: Relaxed

Some of the AA meetings online are much more relaxed than the in-person meetings.

Rather than follow an organized format, the members can simply chat with each other and one thing leads to another. For some, this can be a positive format as it can be spontaneous. For those who enjoy the structure of a meeting or find it hard to follow more than on conversation at a time, this may not be the best fit for you. 

Style of AA Meetings Online: Formal

Other online AA meetings stick to the same and organization as their offline counterparts.

This is especially the case with the video and audio chats as it's easy to keep to meeting guidelines in this format and it would be chaos if everyone was on video and talking at the same time.

AA meetings online are a great way to get extra support at almost any time around the clock as well as to fit in extra meetings when you find you need them.

AA Meeting Online Etiquette

Similar to an in-person meeting, online meetings have a basic expectation for behavior.

 One principle is that all participants in the meeting have a desire to stop drinking. Anyone is welcome to share in any of the meetings, but participants are encouraged to be polite, kind, and understanding. Everyone has a unique history and addiction journey and will therefore have differences in their recovery. Being respectful of the varying stages of recovery is expected. Individual’s are encouraged to be mindful of their use of humor and sarcasm. When you think about the chat format meetings, sarcasm and humor can easily be misunderstood and hurtful. 

Individuals are encouraged to avoid telling “war stories” because they can have a negative impact on the person sharing as well as the individuals listening.

War stories often glorify drinking behaviors and neglect to adequately describe the consequences that arose from these drinking behaviors. An alternative mindset is to stay in the solution and focus more on what can be done in your recovery.

As with in-person meetings, it is likely that there may be a member that you do not care for.

Remaining civil with disagreements can go a long way and prevent a meeting from taking an unproductive turn. If you feel as though someone is being inappropriate in the meeting, report it. You have enough on your plate as it is, so let the person who should respond to the situation do as they may. Not your monkey, not your circus.

Lastly, online meetings are not appropriate for anyone in an emergency situation. An example of an emergency situation would be an individual experiencing withdrawal symptoms as well as anyone having self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

In those and similar situations, contacting 911 or your local emergency services would be the most appropriate course of action.

Commonly Used Terms In AA Online Meetings and AA Chat rooms 

You could be forgiven for thinking that when you enter the world of online AA meetings and AA chat rooms, that those participating are speaking a different language. 

And, to a certain extent, you would be right. Many individuals walk away from their first meeting with a similar thought.

And, to a certain extent, you would be right.

There are a large number of terms used in these online AA meetings that resemble the words we use every day but that seem meaningless in the context they are used online.

This is because they are, in fact, acronyms.

(You may also come across these acronyms during 'real world' Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.)

Listed below are the most common of acronyms in use in AA online meetings.

So if you are ever puzzled during an AA online meeting or in an AA chat room then come back here and refer to our list.

It is important to note that it is not necessary to memorize or even attempt to memorize all of the terms and acronyms below. Groups tend to use the same ones repeatedly so it is likely that you would catch on just by attending the meetings. If you hear something that doesn’t make sense, you can always ask another member for clarification. 

AA = Absolute Abstinence. AA = Adventurers Anonymous. AA = Altered Attitudes. AA = Altruistic action. AA = Attitude Adjustment. ABC = Acceptance, Belief, Change. ABC = Ashtrays, Broom, Coffee. ABC = Ashtrays, Broom, Chairs. ACTION = Any Change Toward Improving One's Nature. ALCOHOLICS = A Life Centered On Helping Others Live In Complete Sobriety. ANONYMOUS = Actions Not Our Names Yield Maintenance Of Unity and Service. ASK = Ass-Saving Kit. BAR = Beware Alcohol, Run. BAR = Beware Alcoholic Ruin. BIG BOOK = Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge. DEAD = Drinking Ends All Dreams. DENIAL = Don't Even Notice I Am Lying. DETACH = Don't Even Think About Changing Him/Her. DUES = Desperately Using Everything but Sobriety. EGO = Easing God Out. EGO = Edging God Out. FAILURE = Fearful, Arrogant, Insecure, Lonely, Uncertain, Resentful, Empty. FAITH = Fear Ain't In This House. FEAR= Few Ever Arrive Rejoicing. FEAR = Failure Expected And Received. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real. FEAR = False Expectations Appearing Real. FEAR = Fear Expressed Allows Relief. FEAR = Feelings Every Alcoholic Rejects. FEAR = Fighting Ego Against Reality. FEAR = Forget Everything and Run (polite version). FEAR = Fuck Everything and Run! FEAR = Face Everything and Recover! FEAR = Forgetting Everything's All Right. FEAR = Frantic Effort to Appear Real. FEAR = Frantic Efforts to Appear Recovered. FINE = Faithful, Involved, knowledgeable and Experienced. FINE = Feeling Insecure, Numb and Empty. FINE = Frantic, Insane, Nuts and Egotistical. FINE = Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. FINE = Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. FINE = F--cked, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. GAYS = Go Ask Your Sponsor. GIFT = God Is Forever There. GOD = Good Orderly Direction. GOD = Group of Drunks. GOYA = Get Off Your Ass. GUT = God's Undeniable Truths. HALT = Honestly, Actively, Lovingly Tolerant. HALT = Hope, Acceptance, Love and Tolerance. HALT = Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. HALT = Horny, Arrogant, Lazy and Tragic. HALTS = Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired and Stupid. HALTS FEAR = Hope, Acceptance, Love and Tolerance Stops Forgetting that Everything's All Right. HELP = His Ever Loving Presence. HELP = Her Ever Loving Presence. HELP = Hope, Encouragement, Love and Patience. HOPE = Happy Our Program Exists. HOPE = Hearing Other Peoples' Experience. HOPE = Hang On! Peace Exists...HOW = Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness. HOW = Honest, Open-minded and Willing. SM = I, Self, Me. ISM = Incredibly Short Memory. ISM = Inside MeISM = I Sabotage Myself. KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid. KISS = Keep It Simple, SugarKISS = Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. KISS = Keeping It Simple, Spiritually. MMM = Meetings, Meditation and Masturbation. NUTS = Not Using The Steps. OUR = Openly Using Recovery. PACE = Positive Attitudes Change Everything. PAID = Pitiful And Incomprehensible Demoralization. PMS = Poor Me Syndrome. PMS = Pour More Scotch. PROGRAM = People Relying on God Relaying a Message. RELATIONSHIP = Real Exciting Love Affair Turns Into Outrageous Nightmare, Sobriety Hangs In Peril. RID = Restless, Irritable and Discontented. SLIP = Sobriety Loses Its Priority. SOB = Sober Old Bag. SOB = Sober Old Bastard. SOB = Sober Old Biker. SOB = Sober Old Bitch. SOBER = Son Of A Bitch, Everything's Real. SPONSOR = Sober Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery. STEPS = Solutions To Every Problem in Sobriety. STEPS = Solutions To Every Problem, Sober. STOP = Sicker Than Other People. TIME = Things I Must Earn. WILLING = When I Live Life, I Need God. YET = You're Eligible Too

If you know of any more acronyms used in offline or AA online meetings and chat rooms, then contact us, and we'll put them up on this page.

As stated above, try not to feel overwhelmed by this list. It can be daunting, and the last thing anyone would want is for the acronyms to turn you away from attending meetings. Asking questions is OKAY, everyone was a newcomer at one point in their journey.



Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


Hello!

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More



Sources:  

Acronyms and Sobriety provided by Michigan State University: https://health4u.msu.edu/articles/2018-acronyms-and-sobriety. 

Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs for alcohol use disorder provided by CochraneLibrary: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012880.pub2/full?cookiesEnabled.

Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland. What happens at an A.A. meeting?. https://www.aacle.org/help/what-happens-at-an-a-a-meeting/

Alcoholics Anonymous most effective path to alcohol abstinence provided by Standford Medicine: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/03/alcoholics-anonymous-most-effective-path-to-alcohol-abstinence.html

Alcoholics Anonymous. What is AA. https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/what-is-aa

Harvard Health Publishing. How Alcoholics Anonymous works. July 2007. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/How_Alcoholics_Anonymous_works

NCBI. Facilitating Involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous During Outpatient Treatment: A Randomized Clinical Trial. March 2009.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2802221/

Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning provided by University of Illinois Springfield: https://www.uis.edu/ion/resources/tutorials/online-education-overview/strengths-and-weaknesses/.


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