To go or not to go to 12-step meetings with the Corona Virus?

Every day the news is changing on how we should be handling the spread of Covid-19, so I shall amend this article based on the information provided by the AA General Service Office. They say:

General Service Office (G.S.O.) has been receiving inquiries about how groups should respond to the COVID-19 (coronavirus). Groups and members are concerned about health and safety issues, and are looking for guidance on how to address this question.

The General Service Office is a repository of shared group experience and functions as a resource center for A.A. members and groups who are looking for the shared experience of the Fellowship. Providing guidance on health issues is outside the scope of the A.A. sharing that G.S.O. offers. However, we might suggest contacting your national, state/provincial and local health authorities for appropriate information.

We do have some general experience to share regarding how some groups and members have begun to address this issue. Our collected experience suggests that talking about these issues before they arise can help a group be prepared to address them in a sensible and helpful manner and allow the group to continue keeping the focus on our common welfare and primary purpose.

Some groups have discussed making changes to customs at their meetings. Some examples have included: avoiding shaking hands and handholding; making sure meeting hospitality tables are sanitary; or suspending food hospitality for the time being. Regardless of group decisions, each individual is responsible for their own health decisions.

Some groups have considered contingency plans in case the group is temporarily unable to meet in person. Plans have included: creating contact lists and keeping in touch by phone, email or social media; meeting by phone or online. Providing members information for the A.A. Online Intergroup (www.aa-intergroup.org) may serve as an additional helpful resource. If a group isn’t holding its regular meetings, they may want to communicate this to local A.A. resources, such as the district, area and intergroup or central office.

Basically, be responsible, act accordingly based on your own health and the region you live in, and let each group make the decision that is right for them.

Like with life, there is no right answer for everyone. Back to my original article, much of which still stands…

People who should not go to in-person meetings with the Corona Virus spreading

If you are a senior and have an underlying health condition that would make getting sick very serious, do not go to in-person meetings. If you are not a senior, but you have an underlying health condition that would make getting sick very serious, do not go to in-person meetings. If you are seriously ill yourself or have the Corona Virus, do not go to in-person meetings.

Use online meetings like the ones intherooms.com provides, listen to speaker tapes, invite healthy people over to have a meeting in your home, get a meeting phone list, and make calls. There are plenty of ways to stay connected if you have to abstain from attending in-person meetings.

The people who should go to in-person meetings no matter what

If you are not a senior and you’re in good health, there is no reason to avoid meetings. Do what’s recommended and wash your hands, don’t touch other people, take Emergen-C (or whatever), and you should be fine. If you are in early recovery or need meetings to stay sober, go to meetings.

The reality is, if you are healthy, the Coronavirus won’t kill you. If you relapse, it might kill you, so weigh your options and make the smart choice. Obviously, everyone wants to stay safe, but we have a fear-based disease. Whether it’s Corona Virus, a drink, or money fears, the fears are going to find somewhere to go. Treating them with meetings is more important than leaning into the darkness and finding ourselves paranoid and alone.

People who should be responsible about meetings

If you are sick, be responsible. If you need to attend in-person meetings, now is the time to wear a mask and refrain from touching other people or coming too close. Sit in the back and don’t cough on people or hold hands.

Should you be a person in recovery with other issues, germophobe, HIV positive but healthy, etc. decide what’s going to stress you out more. If missing meetings is an unhealthy choice, then lather on that disinfectant and get yourself out there. If the thought of all those germs makes your head explode, go online and find the meetings you need for now.

Alcoholism and addiction are diseases of isolation, so if that’s a trigger for you, don’t isolate. Attend meetings as you regularly would and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. If you know someone who is struggling and can’t attend meetings, reach out to them to make sure they’re OK. We’re all in this together.

Check out Lindsey’s recovery wisdom in 100 Tips For Growing Up

corona virus and 12 step meetings
Easy to understand and simple to implement

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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