by Christopher King
A lot has changed in our world over the past couple of months. COVID-19 swept the globe at an alarming rate and caused a lot of major metropolis’ around the planet to completely shut down. In these unprecedented times there are still so many questions that have yet to be answered. Have we flattened the curve? When, if ever will we get back to our normal lives? Will social distancing be a permanent thing? Should I wear a mask in public? When will the country open back up? Will it be safe when it does? We are waiting patiently for all these questions to be answered. There has been a major impact on the 12-step recovery community due to COVID-19. A question asked by 12 steppers lately is when can we get back to our meeting halls? The 12-step community relies heavily on meetings, whether it be AA, NA, CA, CMA, or HA for one hour, during the meeting, addicts and alcoholics are safe from the drink and the drug. Not to mention the fellowship before and after the meeting. Many addicts and alcoholics show up to meetings around an hour before start time and stay after about the same amount of time. This is a time that sponsors work with sponcee’s, a time when friends catch up on their weeks, a time when spiritual principles are discussed, and growth and comradery rise around us. The struggling addict and alcoholic are affected the most. These meetings and meeting halls were a place of refuge, a safe haven, a place that can shelter those in need from the temptation of the drink or drug. These meetings are also a place of celebration. A place where lengths of sobriety are celebrated with coins and cake. When a newcomer picks up that 24 hour coin, they are met with support and understanding, when they hit 30 days there is a feeling of accomplishment, when they hit a year or multiples of years and get that cake it shows the next guy/gal that this really works. As of now COVID-19 has taken this away from us in the traditional since. Very few if any meeting halls are open. But if this group can overcome alcoholism and drug addiction, they can overcome COVID-19, right? With the advancements in technology specifically in the virtual relm, they can and have. When this pandemic first started, we scrambled with no idea on how to continue our recovery. It did not take long for the 12-step community to realize the effectiveness of the virtual world. Virtual meetings started to pop up everywhere. Every fellowship started to get involved with online meetings. Groups started using recourses like FaceTime to work with sponcee’s, Zoom to host and chair 12 step meetings. Within weeks you could find a meeting in any fellowship on any day of the week online through different platforms. When the fellowshipping was missed, 12 steppers started to log into these virtual meeting early to catch up with each other and continue to grow the sense of comradery. The newcomer now has a place where they can feel safe and accepted again. A place where no one will judge them for their past transgressions, a place where a message of hope is being delivered, a place where addicts and alcoholics from around the globe celebrate various lengths of sobriety. When folks hit their recovery milestones 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, a year, multiples of years these miracles are again being recognized by their peers. The feeling of accomplishment is no longer lost from the lack of meetings. There are some amazing benefits of virtual recovery as well. By utilizing online platforms for virtual meetings this has opened the door for the 12-step community to invite those in recovery to attend meetings from around the world, we are able to visit meetings in Australia, England, France, Germany, Africa, the reach of the virtual world expands way past the borders of the city, state, and country that we currently reside in. If you want to attend a meeting in Japan, you can do that. While we all know that there is no true replacement for in person recovery, virtual recovery is supplying the necessary means for the addict and alcoholic to continue their journey in sobriety. So, come join us as “we trudge the road of happy destiny” virtually. We do recover.