AAGrapevine, November 2005
You should have seen the funny looks I used to get four years ago when I talked about doing Twelfth-Step work online. The old-timers especially used to look at me as if I were nuts. But with time, we learned that while nothing will replace the face-to-face Twelfth-Step call, the language of the heart can be transmitted, no matter what the media–as long as we know what we are talking about, how AA works, and how we can carry the message of AA to the person who is desperate to find a solution. In other words, as long as we have experience, strength, and hope.
I am a member involved in the Twelfth-Step Online Committee of Online Intergroup (or “Steppers,” as we affectionately call ourselves). Approximately four years ago, we started with one Twelfth-Step “button” on the Online Intergroup website, www.aa-intergroup.org. Currently thirty-six websites based all over the world have a “button” or a link to Steppers, including Belarus, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, France, Canada, and the United States. Our newest member is from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Length of sobriety among Steppers ranges from several years to thirty, and every Stepper I know attends meetings regularly.
Since our beginning, we have been contacted by an estimated 5,000 people and by 1,297 in the past year alone. There is almost always someone on the committee who speaks one of the common languages on the globe, including some African dialects.
Some want help to stop drinking. Others are traveling and want to know where meetings are located. Still others know people with drinking problems and inquire what they can do as a family member or friend. Everyone’s anonymity is respected and the Traditions are taken seriously. And we always recommend that people go to face-to-face meetings and give them help finding those meetings. While we cannot take anyone to a meeting due to sheer distances, we do share experience, strength, and hope just as we would do if someone walked in off the street. We have a vast amount of resources available to pass along.
Some AAs perform great service to the Fellowship by doing face-to-face Twelfth-Step work. Some help by being GSRs or DCMs. Others make coffee and clean the clubs. Some visit jails and schools and develop public service announcements. Still others carry the message from a keyboard. It not only helps us keep sober ourselves, but also may just help the alcoholic find the help he or she needs.
I know several people who have found AA online and begun their sobriety there. A man from Germany who initially contacted us online has been sober now almost three years. He has developed a healthy AA program and continues to work hard. One day we received an e-mail for help from a cruise ship. It was the middle of the night for those passengers. An AA member could not find any “friend of Bill W.” on board, so she knocked at the Captain’s door to ask for help because she wanted to have a drink. The Captain thought of going online to ask for help, and reached one of our buttons, wrote to us, and within minutes, Steppers replied. By morning, this woman had twenty or so replies, and had made it through the night without drinking.
Flower Mound, Texas