Recovery groups have been meeting in church basements, school cafeterias and private residences since the 1,800’s. Many even pre-dating the famous anonymous programs we all know about. There is no doubt that these in person gatherings have helped innumerable persons with all types of substance use disorders.
But what if you live in an area that doesn’t host a meeting? Or perhaps you reside in a small town where there are no meetings. Or maybe you’re an extreme introvert.
That a like-minded community of social support is an invaluable aid to addiction recovery is a solid given. Those new to recovery are always greatly helped by more experienced members. Having peers who are struggling just as much can make anyone’s journey less lonely. Peer recovery and peer coaching has been proven in evidence-based trials to be hugely effective.
But is meeting face to face really always necessary? Is it the only way? What if you can reap all the benefits and support of a group without ever leaving your home? There are growing numbers of online recovery communities that believe this is entirely possible.
One such group is https://www.reddit.com/r/stopdrinking/ . This thriving online community boasts 60,000 subscribers. The subreddit description says they are “a place to motivate each other to control or stop drinking”. It is entirely volunteer run and filled with members openly sharing their struggles and achievements.
Questions are encouraged and those giving advice are urged to be kind.
Moderators make sure that a friendly tone is consistently maintained.
With over 41% of members actively participating at any given time, the safety of everyone is taken very seriously. All are discouraged from contacting each other outside of the forum’s safe refuge.
Active members are highly supportive of each other. Those who are struggling are never without comfort and tips from those who are farther along on their recovery journey.
Praise is given when milestones are met. About 23% of subscribers publicly display how long they have maintained sobriety. Badges are awarded for days without drinking alcohol.
Much of the forum’s success is undoubtedly due to the very same factors that contribute to the efficacy of in-person recovery meetings. One of the things that we like about the forum is its inclusiveness. There is no dogma or one correct way. Members are just as apt to recommend Smart Recovery or the Christian group Celebrate Recovery as AA. But there is a definite fellowship and system of social support.
An online community like https://www.reddit.com/r/stopdrinking/ has the added bonus of being there for members 24/7 via an always open chat room. Members have admitted that the ability to log in at any time is extremely helpful during exceptionally difficult times that usually trigger alcohol cravings.
Online recovery communities are still considered to be a little bit “out of the box” by recovery traditionalists, therapists and some even some face to face groups. One major anonymous group, which will go unnamed, has even declared that online and telephone meetings are not sanctioned by the group.
The nonconventional approach that’s driving a new generation of recovering people to https://www.reddit.com/r/stopdrinking/ may be the future. A beneficial gathering of thousands of people in the same boat with you. Where you can retain complete anonymity and yet not recover alone.
Could this trend be a great way to begin to research recovery – anonymously? To dip your proverbial “toe in the water” Could it be a way to augment a recovery where face to face meetings are difficult?
Or could it ever replace actual face to face meetings? There appear to be many folks on the subreddit that have stayed sober with no other intervention than anonymous participation in the online group.
Could this be the future of recovery? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.