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Even with the best intentions, sometimes life gets in the way of making regular in-person support group meetings. Especially now, as we all shelter in place due to the coronavirus, it might be difficult to keep hold of the support network you need to help maintain your recovery.
Luckily, some organizations have plans in place to help keep meetings going, even when participants can’t make it. There are also a number of resources available for anyone to create an online support group for themselves.
Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the oldest peer support organizations, said in a recent press release what groups are doing when meeting in person becomes untenable: “Many local A.A. entities have added information to their websites about how to change a meeting format from “in-person” to online. Some groups have shared that they are utilizing digital platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or a conference call.” Al-Anon has a list of its online meetings that you can filter by the platform of your choice.
Currently several support groups offer online meeting spaces, chat rooms for example. Beat Eating Disorders, a British charity has several chat rooms for a number of different groups, including Adults with Eating Disorders, and Students with Eating Disorders. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders also has several weekly online meetings that are free and open to anyone. SMART Recovery also has an online community that holds Zoom-based meetings.
In the Rooms is a site that supports online meetings for a number of different recovery groups, including Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Alcoholics Anonymous. In their onboarding page for new members who’re joining because of current events, they say, “We know that recovery relies on communication and connection, and we don’t want anyone to lose that, even as social distancing and self-isolation become the best practices to prevent spreading the virus.”
Remember, any group can be a support group, if it’s the right people. If you can’t find a digital meeting of your own support group, try and schedule a meeting with at least a few members, using the likes of Skype, Google Meet, or Zoom. The New York branch of Alcoholics Anonymous has a page with instructions on how to start your own meeting using Google and Zoom, for example.
Heck, if you want to get a big group together, Discord is probably one of the most useful and ubiquitous pieces of software out there. If you prefer text-based support, a group WhatsApp or a Slack might also be helpful.
Also, if you need help finding local resources, there’s always the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline, which is available 24/7.