The F Word: For recovering alcoholics, it’s one step at a time, online


Alcoholics Anonymous is a close-knit organization whose members are couched in privacy. AA members look for help from within, without the worry of reprisal or judgement from their friends and neighbors. Their peers are there for one another, day or night, on the phone, in a group meeting, or one-on-one.

And in the disruptive uncertainty of now, these “Friends of Bill,” as they call themselves in reference to AA founder Bill W., need the services and support the organization provides even more.

One such local AA member, Doug, whose last name CITY is withholding in the spirit of anonymity, is a bass player and frontman for a Rochester-based hard rock band. Like many local musicians caught up in this pandemic, Doug isn’t working. And even though there’s currently no place for him to play, AA has provided Doug and others like him a place to go for support or to help provide support.

He says whether a meeting gets shut down or its members are practicing social distancing, there are protocols in place to ensure AA members continue with their recovery.

“Most of the meetings I go to are shut down,” Doug says. “In early recovery it is suggested to get a lot of phone numbers. So if you can’t get to a meeting, you call other people in recovery and talk through whatever is going on — if you want to drink or you’re struggling with emotional sobriety.”

As a sponsor, Doug meets with other members a safe six feet apart. Of course, there is video conferencing, too. “I have also been doing meetings online,” he says. “People can google them for a number of options.”

AA has multiple resources online, at, for people in recovery looking to stay plugged into the program and connected to the community. “Anybody struggling right now and feeling powerless over drugs and alcohol, I suggest they reach out,” Doug says. “There is help available even when things are as crazy as they are.”

For more information about how to connect with AA meetings in Rochester during the pandemic, go to A complete list of online meetings both nationally and internationally can be found at

Frank De Blase is CITY’s music writer. He can be reached at