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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Links to online meetings and other resources for people in recovery are available at the end of this transcript.]

A person from Providence we’ll call John is among the people in recovery who’s connecting online. He spoke to our reporter Alex Nunes about how he and others in the recovery community are adapting to COVID-19.

NUNES: How are the meetings going so far? Do you find that they’re an adequate substitute to in-person meetings?

JOHN: The meetings are great. I’m actually going to more meetings now than I was going to before. I’ve been going to meetings regularly and consistently sober for 16 years. In the last few years, my life has gotten very full, so I’m only able to attend two or three meetings a week. Now I’ve been going to a Zoom meeting almost every night, and I find it’s a great source of camaraderie and support.

NUNES: I could see how any type of stressor might trigger someone in recovery, and now with this huge pandemic going on that could be one. What are people in meetings saying about that exactly?

JOHN: Certainly people are stressed. I think the level of stress for all people is just higher than it had been before, and certainly stress can be triggering for people who are in recovery for addiction. The coping mechanisms that an addict will go to will often be drugs and alcohol. Liquor stores are still open, and that’s fine for people who can drink in safety. A recovering alcoholic cannot, and for that reason it’s really helpful to have those communities of support available online or over the phone.

NUNES: Aside from the convenience, are you finding other unexpected benefits of being able to meet people online?

JOHN: Absolutely. It’s been really great how far these communities can spread online. The first online meeting that I attended I was able to see friends that I knew from Providence meetings who had moved away and now live in Philadelphia or California or Texas. They’re tuning into these same meetings, so it’s a way to reconnect with old friends in recovery as well as a way to reach out to folks who are new.

NUNES: Is it your experience that people who are new to recovery are able to find these meetings where they’re happening online?

JOHN: Just anecdotally: in the meetings that I’ve attended, there have been people who are showing up who are a couple weeks sober or a couple months sober. So those people have probably been keyed into meetings in real life and then know that they can go to these online meetings.

NUNES: Anonymous 12 step programs are obviously anonymous. Are people able to feel comfortable knowing that, when they go to an online meeting, that there’s nothing identifying about them in the meeting?

JOHN: There are functions within Zoom, and I imagine there are other platforms that are being used. I’ve only used Zoom myself, but probably there’s Google Hangouts, there’s FaceTime, there’s other things. But to my best knowledge: yes, you can alter your information as displayed to minimize anything identifiable about yourself. You can change your name. You can turn off your video so that people can’t see you so that anonymity can remain.

NUNES: When this pandemic passes, do you expect that you’ll continue to go to meetings online or you’ll just go back to what you were doing already?

JOHN: It’s so hard to envision what life will be like after this passes. It’s so hard to know how long this is going to go for. But I will say that I’ve had such a good experience in the online meetings that I’ve attended that I will definitely continue to go to those meetings as they’re made available. It’s just such a great opportunity to hear from other people in recovery across state lines, internationally. It’s a worldwide community of people in recovery, and it’s available to anyone with a telephone or an internet connection.

NUNES: Alright, John. Thanks very much for speaking with me, and good luck to you and everyone at your meeting.

JOHN: Thank you for having me. Good luck to you.


Alcoholics Anonymous online meetings, Rhode Island:

Narcotics Anonymous, New England region online meetings:

Anchor Recovery:

Phoenix House:

The Providence Center:

SMART Recovery:

Butler Hospital:

[Anyone who has a resource to add to this list can email it to]

See more of our coronavirus coverage, including community resources and personal stories.