Online Recovery Meetings
When we are thinking of recovery meetings, we often conjure up an image of a church basement, a circle of chairs, pots of strong black coffee, and welcoming faces. But that image doesn’t necessarily depict the vast array of recovery resources that are available today.
In recent years we’ve seen a far-reaching expansion of recovery pathways and supports, all geared toward making recovery more accessible. Whether you want to attend a meeting in person, get support from online communities, or attend meetings virtually, there is an option to suit your needs. We see this in the huge expansion of recovery pathways, but also in making recovery virtual and a whole lot more convenient.
This is particularly helpful for those who work odd hours, are less able-bodied, or who simply prefer the convenience of not needing to leave the house for a meeting. It makes recovery more accessible. Virtual meetings are also available globally.
I remember when I first got sober, in 2012 in the northwest of England. The only recovery options were inpatient rehab or in-person Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. And the treatment centers sent people to AA anyway. The point is, my options were limited. This pathway was incredibly helpful at the time: I had access to a ready-made community of sober people and a support network that provided people to talk to at any time of day. Meetings were available several times a day, every day of the week. There was a tried and tested program of recovery, and years of wisdom available.
Over time, however, I needed less rigidity and fewer rules for my recovery, but I had no other options apart from connecting with people online. I found connections on Twitter (through the hashtag #recoveryposse), on Facebook, and through online support groups, and I started reading a range of recovery blogs. I felt like my whole world had opened up. The expansive network of online support for people in recovery surprised me.
While I was able to take advantage of online forums, Facebook groups, and interactions on Twitter, my meeting options were still limited, both online and in-person. Moving to the US, however, brought more options into my life. I attended a range of new meetings in person and online. My recovery today is predominantly online through the connections I’ve made, as well as through in-person therapy.
This is really convenient because as a business owner I am often working unpredictable hours, and I often don’t have the energy to work a really long day and then drive to a meeting. I can access recovery from my sofa! While we all vary in recovery needs and supports, this works really well for me.
Thinking back to the person I was in early recovery, I would have loved to be able to access these resources so readily. I often spent evenings dragging myself to a meeting when I was completely exhausted. I could’ve reserved that energy by attending an online meeting in my pajamas instead.
That’s why I’ve pulled together a guide of some of the most popular online recovery resources that you can access from the comfort of your own home. Whether that’s something you choose to do regularly, or if you can’t make your regular home group, these meetings don’t require regular attendance or service commitments.
SMART Recovery Online
SMART Recovery (which stands for Self-management and Recovery Training) is a nationwide organization offering free mutual-aid format support for people who struggle with all types of addictive behaviors. They offer an online version of their in-person support, called SROL (SMART Recovery Online). SROL offers meetings, message boards, chat, and an online library. You can access an online community 24 hours a day, seven days per week. You can visit the community here.
SMART’s Message Board is an extensive resource for online members where you can find the SMART Recovery tools, relevant articles and essays, news, and more. Think of it as social media for people in recovery. There are message boards for people in recovery from various disorders and addictive behaviors — including drugs, eating disorders, and self-harm — as well as support for family and friends, and help around certain life situations like parenting, or grief.
There is also a chat room that is available globally, 24 hours a day. This function is available once you sign up for SROL.
SROL meetings are available several times a day. Check out their online meeting schedule for more information.
In The Rooms
In The Rooms is perhaps one of the largest social networks and meeting platforms dedicated to online recovery resources. You can find community and meetings, social boards, resources about substance use disorders, all available online. They offer over 130 live online meetings every week, including:
Based around the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-step groups are available for just about every substance that you might have a problem with, from marijuana to food or and sex and love addiction. 12-step groups also offer support to friends and family of those with substance use disorders. These groups are called Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen, and Adult Children of Alcoholics. The 12-step program is spiritual in nature and offers a step-by-step guide to overcome addiction. You work through the steps with a sponsor. Meetings available via In The Rooms include:
Narcotics Anonymous, and an LGBTQ+ friendly group, called NA Pride
Note: We’ve linked to each fellowship’s website. To access online meetings via In The Rooms, you’ll need to sign up.
Other recovery meetings
In The Rooms is also a hub for a range of non–12-step meetings, including:
Nurses Helping Nurses
Celebrate Recovery (Christian-based)
Women for Sobriety (female-only)
Refuge Recovery (Buddhist-based)
Wellbriety (Indigenous/Native American)
Life Recovery (faith-based)
LifeRing Non-Secular Recovery
Collegiate Recovery (supporting those in education)
To access In The Rooms, you need to sign up.
A splinter group formed from Refuge Recovery, Recovery Dharma is based on Buddhist principles. Similar to other mutual-aid meetings, there is a program of recovery that you work through with a mentor. There are a range of online meetings available via the Buddhist Recovery Network.
LifeRing Secular Recovery
Similar to SROL, LifeRing Secular Recovery also offers a chat room, text-based meetings, forums, YouTube videos, and online meetings. They also offer email support groups. Visit their online meeting schedule for more information.
Al-Anon Online Meetings
As mentioned, Al-Anon is a 12-step fellowship for friends, family, and loved ones of those with substance use disorders and any other behavior that they are seeking help from a 12-step group. Al-Anon also has a 12-step program that is worked with the help of a sponsor. There are a range of meetings available across different platforms, including Skype, Facebook Messenger, email, WhatsApp, Zoom, and their own free conference application. Visit Al-Anon Family Groups for more information.
Located in Portland, OR, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) is an experienced writer, journalist, and coach. She is the founder of the popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, a site dedicated to helping people flourish in their recovery. Liv is passionate about challenging limiting mentalities and empowering others to direct their own lives, health, and recovery. You can find her articles across the web on podcasts and addiction recovery websites, including The Fix, Recovery.org, Ravishly, and The Recovery Village. Liv was recently featured in VICE.