Finding an In-Person AA Meeting During a Pandemic

In-person AA Meetings

Finding an In-Person AA Meeting During a Pandemic

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If you are working on managing your addiction, AA Meetings may be an important tool for you. These meetings hold you accountable and provide an outlet for communication and support to help you through difficult times.

The pandemic has made it difficult for people to hold in-person gatherings, and AA meetings are no exception. Online meetings are a popular alternative and, while they are effective, they lack a personal touch that can be so valuable to someone dealing with addiction.

If you are looking for an in-person AA meeting during the pandemic, it may be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips for finding a meeting that will help you with your recovery.

The Switch to Online AA Meetings

The pandemic means many AA groups have switched to an online meeting format. Online meetings bring their shares of positives and negatives.

The Benefits of an Online AA Meeting


One of the biggest benefits of an online meeting is safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Without in-person contact, the risk of catching the virus through AA is eliminated.


An online Alcoholics Anonymous meeting helps recovering users make a connection and gain the support they need from the comfort of their own homes. The lack of a commute results in less time and fewer expenses.

Available for Al-Anon

Al-Anon is like AA, but it provides support for the family members and close friends of the user rather than the user themselves. Al-Anon meetings are available in an online format as well.1

The Negatives of Online AA Meetings

Concerns About Security and Anonymity

Many people who attend Alcoholics Anonymous want their identities protected. They don’t want their addiction traced back to their personal and professional lives. When you are on a computer, there is the risk that your private information could be hacked by others in the online group.

Lack of Emotional Connection

A video conference chat does not provide the emotional connection of in-person meetings. Even though it works as an outlet, there is still a sense of isolation, adding to the anxiety and depression that drives substance use.

Why Some People May Prefer in Person AA Meetings

In addition to the connection an in-person AA meeting provides, there are other reasons people may prefer in-person meetings.

An AA Meeting Provides Structure and Balance

An AA meeting follows a specific structure which typically looks like this:2

  • A welcome speech
  • A preamble
  • A reading of ‘How it Works” from the AA book
  • A reading of the 12 Traditions3
  • A reading of the guidelines
  • A topic is suggested
  • The Serenity Prayer4

Although this structure can be followed during an online AA meeting, it may be harder to maintain when people are in various locations and dealing with different internet connections.

An AA Meeting Provides Deep Connections

An in-person Alcoholics Anonymous meeting provides deep connections. Being in the room with others who understand addiction can make a person feel comfortable. Members also have the opportunity to socialize after the meeting, an option that is not always available with an online format.

Members Feel More Accountable for Their Actions

AA may help each member feel more accountable. If they used or were tempted to use during the week, they will know it is up to them to open about their experience in the next meeting, and it may allow them to rethink before using.

When video conferencing, they are not facing their peers. Someone may find it easier to hide their use or avoid being upfront about it. They may even choose to avoid meetings completely.

COVID-19 Safety Measures an AA Meeting Can Incorporate

Understandably, many AA members may prefer the in-person format when it comes to emotional support. At the same time, they may be concerned about the risk of catching the coronavirus. Fortunately, many organizations are taking COVID-19 safety measures including the following:

Social Distancing

Many AA meetings take place in large gathering spaces where members sit in a circle. Chairs can be spread out at a six-foot distance ensuring that no one is sitting too close to another member.

No Hugs or Physical Contact

Hugs and physical contact are often part of an AA meeting. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, physical contact should be avoided to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Measures

Organizations can take extra efforts to clean and sanitize by using disinfecting products on all surfaces. They can also position hand sanitizers around the facility, giving members plenty of opportunities to keep their hands clean.

Providing Information About the COVID Vaccine

The more people that get the vaccine, the quicker that the spread will be under control. AA organizers can offer resources on where members can get the vaccine, any potential side effects of the vaccine, and any other relevant information.

AA Meetings Near Me

The 12 Step Programs that AA offers are beneficial in keeping people clean from substance abuse. If you are looking for online or in-person meetings, your best source will be the official Alcoholics Anonymous website.5

The AA website includes a ‘Meeting Guide’ which will allow you to freely sync with online meetings in your area. You can also use the official AA website to find meeting locations near you by entering your zip code.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for those struggling with addiction to benefit from the emotional connection of AA meetings. Fortunately, online AA organizations are doing their part by keeping meetings safe.

If you can’t find an AA meeting or prefer to try a treatment program other than AA, Arrow Passage Recovery has other support group options.



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