Since the spring of 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the continuous and sometimes tumultuous changes in our world have directly impacted our Al‑Anon groups. I, like many Al‑Anon members, was unable to attend my Al‑Anon meetings. I felt at a complete loss.

I am so grateful that I did not have to figure this out for myself. It was truly amazing to witness how groups, in relatively quick fashion, found ways to meet despite not being able to gather in our meeting spaces. It was heartwarming to see many Districts decide to use member and group contributions to sponsor a meeting platform for all groups in the District to share. None of us expected the situation to last so long!

Callers to the World Service Office seeking meetings were referred to the 300-plus registered phone and online meetings listed on Many did not know they existed. We all experienced a learning curve as electronic meetings soon became the only meeting option for those affected by someone else’s drinking. Attendance in these meetings grew exponentially.

I had changed home groups and found other new Al‑Anon meetings to attend when I moved to Virginia Beach, and I found this process of participating in electronic meetings to be a similar experience. It was not an easy pivot. I wanted my Al‑Anon meetings my way. Many of us balked. Many of us said, “I am not doing any meeting on a computer! That just is not Al-Anon!” But members participating in those meetings would surely inform us that recovery was definitely taking place!

As if on cue, members in registered phone and online meetings began discussing the possibility of creating a service structure. With more than 300 registered meetings already, these groups could clearly constitute an Area. With the pandemic now in full swing, new electronic meetings were registering daily on a variety of platforms.

So at the 2021 WSC, the Board of Trustees brought forward a recommendation from the Electronic Meetings Work Group to recognize all electronic groups registered with the WSO as Al-Anon Family Groups. With WSC approval, these groups could now form a service structure through the election of a Delegate. The 2022 World Service Conference (WSC) made history by voting to accept the Global Electronic Area (GEA) as the 68th Area connected to the WSC Structure.

As we continue this journey, with Al‑Anon groups having the choice to meet in person or on electronic platforms, it appears that the hand of Al‑Anon is really able to be there any time someone reaches out for help. New choices are now part of the discussion, for instance, whether to meet in person, online, or include an electronic component with an in-person meeting (hybrid). The new types of Al‑Anon meetings include service responsibility for technical support, which is just as important as having a “key-holder” to open the meeting room.

If your Area does not yet have a process in place to accept electronic Al‑Anon groups, please consider participating in District and Area discussions about establishing one. If your in-person group moved temporarily online during the pandemic and some members now wish to remain online, these members simply need to register a new electronic group. If all the members wish to remain online, you can update your group information to change your location from physical to electronic. Electronic groups can either register as connected to a geographic Area to attract a local audience (provided the geographic Area has a process in place to do so) or register with the new GEA to attract a global audience. Groups that are already registered with the GEA can now request a transfer to a geographic Area (and vice versa) by using the appropriate “Group Area Transfer Form.” Go to to get the forms.

The goal of completing updates is to ensure the WSO and service arms are able to provide accurate meeting information. Newcomers seeking help and hope should be able to look at a meeting display and know when, where, and how to attend. Every member participating in an Al‑Anon group is responsible for the accuracy of their group display on al‑ Consider taking a moment to check it now, and if anything is inaccurate, please update the group meeting information by going to and selecting the appropriate Al‑Anon Group Change Form. If you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us at groupservices@al‑

By Sue P., Associate Director–Group Services

The Forum, June 2023

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.