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AA Members Face Struggles During COVID-19

Lately, we’ve been sharing info about major recovery organizations and the struggles they’ve been facing during COVID-19. Well, that same sentiment carries over into one of the biggest brands out there; namely Alcoholics Anonymous.


The Washington Post recently published an article detailing the challenges for AA and its thousands of members. Just like many sobriety programs, they are quickly having to adapt to quarantine rules and, apparently, it is not going smoothly.


One of the biggest hits for Alcoholics Anonymous is the loss of in-person meetings. Due to social distancing, typical hugs and hands-on support are not as available. Now all meetings are handled via Zoom Chat Rooms, which do not always allow for privacy; as family members are often locked down together.


Washington Post writer Sarah Pulliam Bailey spoke to several members of the group, who feel like the current program isn’t as effective as it once was.


“Members of AA say they miss the in-person meetings where people often hug and hold hands,” Pulliam Bailey explained. “They say the stay-at-home orders to combat the novel coronavirus have created additional feelings of isolation, which those addicted to alcohol already are facing. And they are worried that people who want to join AA might have trouble finding a meeting or feeling comfortable joining a Zoom call where most everyone else generally knows each other.”


Another point mentioned in her quote rings true as well. Feelings of isolation are a big contributor to people falling off the wagon and potentially relapsing back into alcohol abuse. Without the physical support that they’re used to, many who are accustomed to the program cannot easily maintain their sobriety.


An anonymous advocate and leader in the program, who goes by Lewis R., was also quoted in the article. He explained the intimate benefits of in-person AA meetings. Having recently been laid off because of COVID-19, Lewis added that now, more than ever, he craves sobriety support.


“The true fruits of AA are combating loneliness of isolation,” Lewis explained. “I had people who took an interest in me and would spend time with me physically. We would just sit and have coffee and laugh. I felt a wave of belonging. That whole thing is missing now.”


Other reps who spoke to The Post said that they are trying their best to work with the situation. Zoom meetings still include the famous “Serenity Prayer” and sobriety milestones are still very much highlighted. The hope, though, is that more intimate meetings can resume at some point in the future.