In the wake of a state-wide ban on gatherings of more than 25 people, Alcoholics Anonymous groups across the region are adapting with the help of technology.
Video and audio conferencing will make it so that “people are staying safe, but still getting what they need,” said Chuck, the office manager of Cape Cod Intergroup, which services AA groups across the Cape. He asked not to use his last name to honor the “anonymous” order of the group.
“The significance of getting these online meetings and tele-meetings going can’t be understated because for some of these people it’s a lifeline,” he said. “Some of them really need to have that touch with other people in the program in order to maintain their sobriety.”
Already, Chuck said, a number of groups have successfully held meetings online through the help of websites like Zoom, which allows dozens of people to join remote video and audio conferencing calls. The point, he says, is to maintain some kind space for those who need to talk to “likeminded” people.
“As this progresses there will be more and more groups that are not going to be able to meet in the traditional format,” he said. “But if somebody—a member of AA—really needs a meeting, they’re going to be able to get a meeting.”
Roughly 300 Cape-based AA meetings are hosted each week by 75-90 independent groups. Cancelations are regularly monitored and posted by Cape Cod Intergroup.
On Nantucket, all but one meeting has been canceled due to the closures of churches and public buildings where members typically meet. Organizers on the island are also looking into video and audio conferencing. The first Nantucket Zoom meeting, said Jay, a member of the group, was “great.”
“It was nice today because a lot of our summer visitors who live off-island joined in,” he said. “It was nice to see and hear from friends all over the country.”
The cancellation of in-person AA meetings could present additional challenges for some members, Chuck said, but for now he’s focused on adhering to public health experts’ recommendations.
“We have things in our daily lives that could be considered worse than this,” he said. “This just requires us—like everybody else—to adapt and overcome.”
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