December brings us the holiday season and staying sober can be challenging for people in recovery, and particularly for those early in the process. Add a global pandemic with the holiday season and it could be an even more challenging time. Traditional plans like spending in-person time with family, friends, or support groups may not be possible. For some of us, this may feel like a relief but for others, being alone on holidays is a trigger that leads to drinking.
However there are many things we can do to not only survive during this time, but also to thrive. Below are a few ideas.
Go to Meetings. The great thing about a shift from in-person to virtual Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is the fact that you have access to a meeting from absolutely anywhere. This year, you will not have to look up a list of A.A. in your area — you will have access to any meeting you’re used to attending so long as you have a phone (smart or not that smart) PC or tablet handy. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, be sure to let your homegroup members know where you will be, and ask them to keep you accountable. It isn’t a bad idea to give out your number before you take off for the holidays either; this way, people will be able to easily get in touch should you not show up to a meeting one day.
Use your phone list. Identify three people you feel safe reaching out to who are supportive of your sobriety and add them to your favorites on your phone. If you’re struggling, reach out to one of them via phone or text. Most A.A. meetings will provide you with a meeting list with numbers. Keep calling until someone answers. If you can’t find anyone to answer your call in your time of need, call the SDI A.A. hotline at 302-856-6452. Twenty four hour support is only a phone call away.
Check-in on someone else. One of the best ways to get out of our own heads is to check-in on someone else who might be struggling. If you’re dealing with cravings or having a difficult day, try to reach out to a friend and see how they’re doing. The unusual 2020 holiday season, with the coronavirus and all, gives us a special opportunity to contact newer members of our home groups who generally rely on lots of meetings—some of which may not be available at this time. An encouraging word via telephone, email or text may be just the ticket. The motive is: out of self, into God, and for others.
Move your body. The mental benefits of exercise are surprising and profound. If you’re experiencing a craving, try to take a 10-minute walk where you focus on your surroundings. If it’s too cold outside for walking, try 10 minutes of gentle stretching inside.
Create an action plan. Know in advance and plan to attend one or more of several virtual events held throughout the holiday season. This can include marathon A.A. meetings (aka alkathons), sober holiday parties and workshops.
And last but not least, the 12 Tips on Keeping Your Holiday Season Sober and Joyous brought to you from the Winter 2013 edition of Box 4-5-9 can be easily adapted to our unusual holiday season where in-person gatherings may not be possible.
May you have a safe, peaceful and sober holiday.
Alcoholics Anonymous is built on a foundation of Twelves: 12 Steps, 12 Promises, 12 Traditions, 12 Principles and 12 Concepts for World Service.
12th Step — Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
12th Tradition — Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. Let us always remember that anonymity – not taking credit for our own or others’ recovery – is humility at work.
12th Concept — The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.
Box 4-5-9 is a quarterly news bulletin from the U.S./Canada General Service Office. This newsletter includes information about A.A. service, literature, events, sharing from groups, service committees and individual U.S./Canada A.A. members. Highlights of the Winter 2020 issue, which you can download here include:
- The ICOAA Seminar — Subtitled Communicating a Shared Purpose, the stated purpose of the Intergroup/Central Office/A.A.W.S./AAGV seminars have been to provide a forum, through workshops, discussions, and the exchange of ideas and shared experience, for those who labor on A.A.’s front lines. Held from September 17–20, 2020, the focus continued on the theme of broadening and deepening the channels of understanding and shared purpose between A.A.W.S. and intergroup/central offices (IGCOs). Among the initiatives agreed upon, A.A.W.S. agreed to give more notice to IGCOs on discounted literature so that they can make purchases in bulk and strive to ensure IGCOs are added to the distribution list whenever it makes announcements to the Fellowship and Conference.
- Opening the Digital Doorway to A.A. Literature — There is a new and improved online store (went live September 9, 2020) to purchase books, pamphlets, and other items from A.A. Features include an enhanced navigation bar allowing visitors to view products by their product type.
New Limited Edition Book
Originally developed as the souvenir book for the 2020 International Convention in Detroit, this colorful, gift-sized volume serves as both a lavishly illustrated tour through A.A.’s history and a lively celebration of our Fellowship. Also included is a highlight on the Virtual 2020 International Convention, a special focus on A.A. in Detroit, and updated coverage of recent digital innovations in A.A. group life. With a one-time-only print run, A Visual History of Alcoholics Anonymous will be released February 14, 2021, with the list price of $12.
Zoom Security Update
Zoom has added new security features in November to help prevent disruptions during virtual meetings and allow users to remove and report disruptive participants. Please ensure you have the most recent Zoom release downloaded and installed. If your meeting is disrupted, all you need to do is click on the security icon and then select Suspend Participant Activities. This will stop all video, audio, in-meeting chat, annotation, screen sharing, and recording. It will also end Breakout Rooms, if they’re in use. The hosts or co-host will be asked if they would like to report a user from their meeting, share any details, and optionally include a screenshot. Once they click “Submit,” the reported user will be removed from their meeting, and Zoom’s Trust & Safety team will be notified. Hosts and co-hosts may resume their meeting by individually re-enabling the features they’d like to use. For more reading on managing your online meetings with Zoom, please see this article.