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The Internet as a Space for Anonymous Alcoholics during the SARS-COV-2 (Covid-19) Pandemic

Beata Hoffmann and Marek Dudkiewicz

Global Journal of Health Science, 2021, vol. 13, issue 8, 61

Abstract: INTRODUCTION- For over a year, Poland, alongside the entire world, has been facing the SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19 pandemic). This emergency has caused an immense social crisis, affecting especially the individual. The lack of social activity, including direct communication, along severe limitations on public and professional lives, have become a threat to mental health of people in almost all countries of the world. This state can be particularly difficult and dangerous to people with addiction. In the recovery process for alcoholics, a special role is often played by the Alcoholics Anonymous groups. OBJECTIVES- Due to the pandemic, meetings of AA groups (as well as other therapeutic groups) have been suspended until further notice. Due to this - due to necessity, not choice - such groups have moved to the online space. This raises a question if internet group meetings can make up for the lack of AA group meetings in physical space. METHODS- The research had an exploratory character. It was conducted between the start of June and the start of July 2020. 225 people participated. The research was conducted using quantitative methods, using a questionnaire designed specifically for this purpose. RESULTS- The research results indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic affected almost all of our respondents. The way the AA meetings work changed. Compared to live meetings, the frequency of meetings increased, the satisfaction from participation simultaneously decreased. Major flaws of online meetings are seen in the discomfort of respondents- some people stopped attending meetings after they moved to the internet. The positive sides of online meetings mainly had to do with the possibility of meeting and contacting new people living far and with organisational matters. The frequency of attending therapy with specialists/therapists decreased during the pandemic, while the frequency of contact with one’s sponsor increased. The overwhelming majority of respondents declared that they did not break abstinence during the pandemic. Those who did were usually people who had spent little time (usually a year, five years at most) in abstinence. The pandemic did not influence subjective appraisal of life quality. CONCLUSION- Our research showed that after the pandemic, our respondents would prefer to return to traditional, live AA meetings, organized as they used to be before COVID-19. Online meetings would only serve a useful, but ultimately complementary role.

Date: 2021
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