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Online Sobriety Meetings: Do They Work?

As a stay-at-home parent, my “spare” time is more or less the extra work time I am able to squeeze in before my daughter wakes up from her nap. Obviously I’m very busy, and though this excuse is often overused, it is truly difficult for me to find time to attend a sobriety meeting. Also, I live about 45 minutes away from the nearest meeting place, which makes it even harder. Though a busy schedule and distance isn’t enough to justify skipping sobriety meetings, these factors certainly make it nearly impossible to go. After struggling with this issue for a while, I began looking into online meetings.

About Online Sobriety Meetings

Online meetings are a great option and a nice virtual meeting environment if you’re stuck at home for any number of reasons. While many people have the ability to physically attend meetings as part of their sober recovery, the online option is a good route to take if you’re stuck without a ride or can’t spare the extra time to get to and from a meeting.

Online meetings are well put together, especially for just being a chat room. There is a chairperson, just like at a real meeting, and in some cases there are even people who you can private message if you have any questions or confusion. There is little to no cross-talk, so there isn’t anyone rudely interrupting you. The site I looked into had scheduled meeting times all day long, a conversion of time zones to clearly state meeting times and even a separate “coffee shop” where you could just go to casually chat with other members. The setup is almost identical to the meetings I used to physically attend.

Benefits of Online Sobriety Meetings

As much as anyone else, I like face-to-face interaction but because I am usually stuck at home while my fiancé works late and uses our only car, I’m left with only a couple of options. Online meetings not only give me the opportunity to attend a sobriety meeting on a regular basis, but I can do so in the privacy of my home. The timing of my daughter’s sleep schedule is not always consistent so sometimes I need to step away from my computer in the middle of meeting. However, when I return to my computer I can scroll through the meeting notes to read what was shared. That way I am able to still benefit from the stories of other members that I might have missed. Some other positive features of online meetings are:

  • There is no limit to the number of members so while everyone may not get a chance to share you can still sit and read the stories of others.
  • The online sobriety meetings I attend usually has more than 30 members signed in.
  • The schedule of the online meetings do not change so they are just as consistent as physical meetings.
  • The anonymity of online meetings holds true–the identity of others is unknown.
  • People generally follow the rules just like a real meeting.

Of course, there are a few disadvantages to online meetings such as the lack of real-life interaction which is a healthy activity that I do miss. Another disadvantage is that it can take some members longer to type their stories out while they are sharing so the meeting may seem longer or you may not get a turn to speak. Regardless, online meetings are generally very well-organized and helpful.

Online Sobriety Fellowship: A Great Alternative

There are several other reasons I am now choosing to join an online fellowship as part of my recovery rather than a physical one. One of the reasons is the ability to make friends in the online fellowship that is strictly based on business. In other words, I can talk to others about sobriety and recovery and not be concerned that if they relapse, I will too.

As we all know, there are some people in the fellowship who have hidden agendas or prone to “13th stepping” (longer-term sober members preying on newer members as dating candidates). Online meetings provide me with the ability to change my guest name so I can avoid repeated harassment from a “13th stepper” and to avoid any altercations. Online meetings also give me the benefit of keeping my identity completely anonymous. With physical meetings, I sometimes felt like I was a target to men in the fellowship program who were only interested in finding a romantic partner. Online meetings have eliminated that problem for me and allow me to focus solely on my recovery and sobriety, while still participating in regular day-to-day conversation if I choose to.

Online meetings have not been given enough credit as to how helpful they can be for people in recovery who are faced with obstacles that prevent them from attending a physical meeting on a regular basis. There are a number of meeting sites you can look into (http://www.recovery.org/forums/ provides a list of sites that are offered). I began using http://www.aaonline.net/ and am grateful to have found another helpful resource to keep me sober.

 

Cassandra Huerta is a freelance writer who lives in an extremely small Michigan town and lives life one day at a time. She enjoys regularly entertaining her six-month-old daughter and can thank her wonderful fiance and coffee for all of her work.


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