By Daniel Casey
Not less than 24 hours after the news of the pandemic reached our country, recovery communities began to act hastily. With lockdowns in place and the CDC limiting any type of gatherings, many recovery communities took to the online video meeting format called Zoom. Prior to Zoom, certain recovery communities had online formats and discussions but these were never very popular. Many of us crave that physical connection encountered at an in-person meeting as a vital part of recovery.
This being said, certain groups continued to still meet in person- outdoors, socially distanced, or in large indoor areas- wearing masks and limiting the amount of participants. Those who felt as if they were not at risk continued to attend these. Others felt that the need to maintain physical connection to those in their recovery communities was as vital as life itself- and this took precedence over any pandemic scare. But these in person meetings became more and more scarce, as the lockdowns and restrictions tightened up and people began to understand and accept the severity of COVID19. The vast majority of recovery meetings now take place over Zoom. And their presence is abundant.
Some members of recovery communities stick to their regular meetings- the same ones they attended before the shutdowns. Connecting with their fellow peers on the computer screen, at home at their desks, or lying in bed with their laptops became comforting. After weeks and months of isolation, seeing their peers going through the same thing somehow made the whole situation a bit more bearable. This was not a personal struggle- we are all in this together.
Others decided to travel virtually. One might decide to wake up at 9 AM on the West Coast and attend a noon meeting in New York, or travel to Australia or England to catch a meeting overseas. Virtual meeting platforms were created that never even had a physical location. Meetings with members in attendance from different states, different countries and different continents began to occur all throughout the day. The list of online Zoom meetings is extensive, and it not specific to any one recovery community.
Speaker meetings, discussions, book studies and meditations all continue to take place. Sponsors and sponsees meet weekly over Zoom, doing the same type of work they did in person before the pandemic hit. Commitments and service positions remain available, with new ones forming as we continue to learn and understand this online meeting format. Traditional positions such as the secretary and treasurer of the meetings still exist, along with new positions being created such as the host and co-host. This is the equivalent of a moderator- someone who controls the virtual meeting platform with the ability to mute and un-mute the participants, let people in from the waiting rooms and kick someone out from the meeting if they are disruptive. Meetings are now almost all password protected, with a waiting room- to filter out the pranksters and “trolls” who decide they want to tap in for a quick laugh.
Certain meetings even continue to participate in fellowship, the bonding with members of their recovery communities before and after the meeting. Trivias, dance parties from home and other events occur regularly over Zoom. Conferences and large gatherings also take place over this virtual platform. It is well understood that this all might feel a bit odd and uncomfortable for those new to recovery who may have never had a chance to attend an in person meeting. But rest assured- all the recovery is still here, maybe even more so now than ever. The wheels of recovery are still turning and we’re giving it the best we’ve got.
With the abundance of these Zoom meetings there is no excuse for those in recovery not to attend their regular meetings- or find new ones daily. Structure and the ability to be of service to others are key factors in the recovery practices of many. Whether one wants to see the same familiar faces or travel to a meeting across the world, there is no shortage of round the clock meetings one click or google search away. With this new ability and ease to attend a meeting from the comfort of our living room- will online meetings always be a part of the recovery game? Will some choose not to go back to an in person meeting ever again?