Are Al-Anon Zoom Meetings Effective?
March 18, 2021
Most Al-Anon groups meet face to face in many venues across the country. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are actively avoiding social gatherings of any kind. This includes in-person Al-Anon meetings.
But restrictions on social gatherings don’t mean that you can’t attend Al-Anon anymore. Thanks to modern video conferencing technology, you can attend any Al-Anon meeting in the country. You can even attend international groups right from the comfort of home.
Al-Anon Zoom meetings can be just as effective as the face to face versions, especially during a pandemic like this. Having a support group while sheltering in place is a big help for your mental health. All the more if you’re living with someone who is addicted to alcohol.
What is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon is a mutual support group related to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA’s founder was suffering from alcohol addiction himself, so his wife decided to put up a similar support group called Al-Anon. This group is designed for the families of people with alcoholism.
Similar to AA, Al-Anon follows a list of 12 steps to recovery. These are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore our sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
What goes on in a typical Al-Anon meeting?
Being a mutual support group, each member shares their story as a way of helping each other. Members would tell each other what it’s like living with their loved ones addicted to alcohol. They can also ask each other questions about their experiences.
Sharing is not mandatory, though. If you’re too shy to share, you may tell the group that you prefer not to speak or you just prefer to listen. Eventually, when you become more comfortable with your Al-Anon group, you can start opening up and sharing as well.
What goes on in a typical Al-Anon meeting?
Al-Anon meetings mainly focus on each member sharing their thoughts and feelings to the group. With that, meetings held on Zoom can work the same way. Each person will have an opportunity to share, and everyone in the Zoom meeting room can listen.
To best replicate the condition of an in-person meeting, it is best for each member to turn on their cameras. That way, everyone can see each other’s faces just as in an in-person meeting.
If everyone has their video on, it also allows a better quality of sharing. Everyone can see each other’s facial expressions, which is an essential part of communication. It’s easier to empathize and get emotional cues from the look on people’s faces.
Will Al-Anon Zoom meetings cost me anything?
No. They work just like the usual Al-Anon meetings, which are completely free to join. So, if you find an Al-Anon Zoom group that you feel comfortable in, you can join the regular meetings free of charge. You don’t even have to consider travel time to the meeting venue, as you can join meetings right at home.
Some tips to make the most of Al-Anon Zoom meetings
Online meetings have a different feel and environment than in-person meetings. For one, all of you are attending the meetings from home. There could be a few things around the house that may distract you and your fellow members during the meeting.
For that reason, keep these tips in mind.
- Pick a room in your house that’s the quietest and has no distractions. Alternatively, you can attend the meetings on your front porch or the balcony if you’d like a natural backdrop.
- Use a plain background. A white wall works well. If that’s not available, at least make sure that your background looks presentable.
- You may join the meeting in your house clothes, but make sure that you look presentable (as if you’re going to an in-person Al-Anon meeting).
- Mute yourself when it’s not your turn to speak. That way, any sudden noises around the house will not be heard.
- Use a headset or a pair of headphones to avoid echoing. With it, you can also hear your fellow members a lot better. Plus, no one else but you can hear the conversations you’re having with fellow members.
- Turn on your camera so other members can see you.
- If you have to go to the toilet or leave your spot for any reason, turn off your camera first.
- Request your family to keep as quiet as possible when you’re in a meeting.
- While you’re in the meeting, focus on the other members and what they’re saying. Avoid opening other apps or browsing the internet. Also, avoid unnecessarily using the chat box to talk to other members while someone is speaking.
How do I find an online Al-Anon group?
There are lots of groups that meet through Zoom. Visit the Al-Anon website to find one that fits your needs. Remember, different groups have unique ways of handling meetings, so you can shop around first to find the best group for you.