As the restrictions on social gatherings start to loosen up, outdoor AA meetings are starting to popularize. One meeting in Old Orchard Beach, along with others across the US, is opening it’s doors again as the outdoor gatherings are now allowed. Along with the sober house residents, and local treatment center residents, all recovering alcoholics and addicts are allowed to attend. This new setting for meetings could be a good way for people in recovery to get back into a more normal schedule.
Sober homes and treatment centers can now start taking their residents to meetings again for the first time since mid March. This means more exposure to the 12-steps and possibly longer sobriety outcomes for all residents. In light of Coronavirus, many treatment centers and sober houses decided to stop letting their residents go to outside meetings, and many meetings decided to close their doors. As residents continued to be admitted into these type of programs, many have not had experiences with AA meetings because of the world wide pandemic. With the opening of outdoor meetings, this now can change. The outdoor meetings can improve the treatment of addiction and alcoholism as AA has been shown to increase chances of longterm sobriety. In my own life, I have seen AA help hundreds of people, including myself.
Personally, I have experienced a new outlook on life thanks to the help of the 12 steps and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. It has been hard to watch many residents come into the treatment center that I work at and new AA members on zoom formatted meetings not be able to have the full experience of an AA meeting. With the added stress of the current world situations, AA is an even more necessary resource for people in recovery to be using. Denise Royal adds to this in her article discussing how AA members have expressed that there is so much more to a meeting than just the meeting itself. This includes the socializing and connecting you can have before and after AA meetings.
When I go to AA meetings, I often arrive early, fill my cup of coffee, and chat with fellow members about how things are going. This connection is SO important for my sobriety and for the part I play in the fellowship. I get to talk to newcomers about the hope that they will see, the help they can receive, and how they can help others too! I also get to talk to the “old timers” about how I can be of more service to the community. Connection is at the core of AA, and these seemingly small, “unimportant” aspects of meetings, are actually what adds to the healing that occurs in AA.
Now that new AA members have the chance to experience this, we can expect to see larger amounts of people staying in longterm sobriety. These outdoor meetings will be of extreme help to the community. Many more exciting resources are starting to become more available as Coronavirus gets tackled by our STRONG nation!