Amid pandemic, 12-step meetings go digital to help those recovering from addiction

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ST. GEORGE — Recovery from alcoholism or addiction can be a constant battle, and with job losses and the subsequent economic challenges that have followed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of face-to-face support groups and 12-step meetings in the age of social distancing can leave some individuals struggling to cope.

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Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

For those suffering from alcoholism or addiction, the loss of meetings in the midst of the pandemic can lead to social isolation and a dangerous removal of support systems.

To that end, technology has taken on a new role for those in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs as meetings have made their way to computers and cell phones across Southern Utah and beyond.

Online meetings have been made available for participants to attend, built around the premise of one alcoholic talking to another – the very principal AA was built upon when Bill W. sat in a quiet den one evening in December 1935 where he shared his experience, strength and hope with Dr. Bob, another alcoholic. The seeds of the program sprang from that meeting between the two cofounders, and Alcoholics Anonymous was born.

For AA, the online meetings are an unprecedented move in the face of the new reality of social distancing brought about by the coronavirus – particularly for a program framed in meetings, hugs and rows of folding chairs placed tightly together. That move couldn’t have come at a better time for the more than 1.3 million members and 66,000 groups scattered across the U.S., in addition to a number of other 12-step substance abuse support programs that have taken root across the country.

Alcoholics Anonymous 

In Southern Utah, online Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are available using Zoom, a videoconferencing service created for webinars and meetings that can be accessed using a desktop, laptop, android or iPhone. Dixie Central Office has provided an online meeting schedule that can be found by clicking here.

The calendar also contains the Zoom ID number and link to join whichever meeting is chosen. Additionally, a phone number is also provided for those who wish to attend by telephone.

There are currently 16 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings available each week that can be attended digitally through the Zoom app. Moreover, anyone who finds themselves struggling who needs someone to talk to can call Dixie Central Office’s 24-hour hotline at 435-674-4791.

Narcotics Anonymous

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Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Similar COVID-19 restrictions are in place for members of the Narcotics Anonymous program, which has implemented 17 online meetings that are available in Southern Utah each week also using the Zoom app.

The calendar of available meetings can be accessed by clicking here and provides the ID number and other information needed to join a particular meeting.

The site also features links and instructions on how to download the Zoom app as well as telephone numbers to call for those participants who prefer to attend by telephone.

Narcotics Anonymous also runs a 24-hour helpline that can be reached at 888-495-3222.

Addiction Recovery Program

The Addiction Recovery Program, a 12-step program sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has also suspended all in-person meetings and instead has implemented a program whereby participants can attend via telephone. Numerous meetings for a number of addictions are being offered using this venue. A complete list of all meetings can be found by clicking here.

For more information, contact LDS Family Services at 435-673-6446. In Iron County, contact the Cedar City branch at 435-586-4479.

General Service Office – Alcoholics Anonymous 

The General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous is headquartered in New York City and functions as a repository for AA members and groups. As a result of the unprecedented health crisis, the organization says, the office has remained closed since March 20 and will remain as such until further notice.

In lieu of the closure, the staff in New York are “teleworking” to continue to support the membership of the organization, as well as the groups operating throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“As the global situation related to the pandemic continues to develop, we are fully committed to continue to serve as a resource center and to help navigate this unprecedented public health emergency,” AA General Service Office said.

Similar to what has taken place in Southern Utah, groups throughout the U.S. are utilizing digital platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or conducting conference calls to maintain contact between the members and groups.

AA World Services has requested that members contact the New York office via email by clicking here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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