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Hello Idaho: Alcoholics Anonymous seeing influx of new members amid pandemic

"It's that reaching out for the first time that is so hard," explained an AA member who says it's a good thing people are asking for help.

BOISE, Idaho — Just about one year ago, Alcoholics Anonymous halted in-person meetings due to the pandemic. 

Connecting with others who are also working on sobriety is a key to success so members have been doing their best to stay out of a dark place.

We talked with a local resident and active AA member, Steve, who asked that we not use his last name.

"Just for anonymity purposes," Steve explained. "It's our AA tradition."

Steve says the last year has been rough for recovering alcoholics, and not just because of the stress of living through a pandemic. Not being able to see supportive AA members in person has been particularly hard.

"You lose some of that connection online and it's so important, especially for people who are just finding their way in recovery," Steve said.  

Face-to-face meetings are starting to open back up again as COVID-19 restrictions ease. According to Steve, more people are seeking help too because some have crossed that line between drinker to alcoholic during the pandemic.

"There is absolutely going to be an influx," Steve said. "It's happening already and it will continue to happen."

He says it's a great thing if they do see membership of the nonprofit rise because that's the most important step in recovery.

"It's that reaching out for the first time that is so hard," Steve said. "It's that one step that someone needs to take and once you make that step to ask for help then it's like a big weight can lift and you realize you're not alone. That's huge knowing you're not alone and have someone to talk to."

Fortunately, the folks in the local AA community take care of each other.

"The presence of AA is really strong," Steve explained. "The 12 steps to recovery in this valley is impressive and I hear that from people who move here and are just really impressed with the abundance of meetings."

So if you think you may have a problem, he has this message for you: "I just want to say to everyone there is hope. People get sober and stay sober and many of us can't do it alone. We need help, we need others to show us the way and it's a great thing."

Alcoholics Anonymous has in-person and online meetings right now throughout southern Idaho. Steve says they will most likely continue some online meetings even after the pandemic because it has allowed more access for members.

If you would like to learn more about AA, including the meetings offered in the area click or tap here.

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