The coronavirus pandemic has led many recovery support groups to host online meetings. Here are some tips for protecting your meetings and your members’ privacy from uninvited guests and toxic users.

Recovery support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are, as the names suggest, focused on anonymity. People struggling with addiction can attend meetings, speak their minds and feel comfortable knowing that their conversations and identity will remain private.

But what happens when these safe spaces are invaded?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns and social distancing measures have caused many Americans to stay at home. Recovery groups are turning to online services to remain connected. Zoom is one of those possible services, and its daily users have skyrocketed from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March 2020. With the necessity for online meetings and the sudden increase in popularity, however, comes a rise in a toxic behavior called “Zoombombing.”

Zoombombers are users who join public Zoom meetings and broadcast graphic pictures, videos, audio and otherwise triggering content. Users have taken these same intentionally disruptive actions on other platforms, such as Skype, Facebook and Discord.

How to Avoid Zoombombers and Still Attend Online Meetings

When it comes to addiction recovery resources, security is key. Many online meeting services require users to create accounts, manually add members and ensure each member also creates an account. Even with these added layers of security, someone can still create new accounts and continue toxic behaviors.

To help peers in recovery support one another safely, The Recovery Village has created an easy-to-use, free service designed specifically for recovery group meetings. The Recovery Village Recovery Room app offers people in recovery unlimited, anonymous online meeting rooms. The app protects participants’ privacy in a few ways:

  • Pin code access. Once a host creates their chat room, only individuals with both the link and pin code will have access. Hosts send this information to people they trust via email, text message or any way they’d like.
  • No sign-up required. Attendees do not have to create an account or submit any personal information to attend a meeting.
  • HIPAA-compliant. Our meetings platform complies with federal and state health care privacy regulations and standards, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Confidentiality Law.

Just like in-person meetings, attendees also have a responsibility to support each other’s privacy. Hosts should not put meeting links or pin codes in public places, including social media. Participants should consider attending the meeting in a private room to also help keep other participants’ information confidential.

Related Topic: Hosting an online recovery meeting is easy. Check out our how-to guide for step-by-step instructions, features and tips.

The Importance of Connection in Recovery

Support groups help people stay committed to long-term recovery by helping them find accountability, share experiences and learn from the experiences of others. Many people rely on weekly recovery meetings for social connection and understanding, and coronavirus-related issues can heavily impact this need. People can feel isolated, stressed and afraid, which can increase the likelihood of a relapse. As such, online recovery resources are more important than ever before.

In addition to our online meeting platform, we offer telehealth services with licensed professionals who can deliver life-changing treatment and online counseling for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health conditions. Our website also hosts a wealth of information about substance use, recovery topics and other helpful tools.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in some way, but help is still available. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder or co-occurring mental health condition, The Recovery Village facilities are open during the outbreak and ready to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for your situation.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more

Bursztynsky, Jessica. “Zoom’s massive surge in new users is i[…]ideo calls reliable.” CNBC, April 14, 2020. Accessed April 14, 2020.

Lorenz, Taylor. “‘Zoombombing’: When Video Conferences Go Wrong.” The New York Times, March 20, 2020. Accessed April 14, 2020.

Volkow, Nora. “Collision of the COVID-19 and Addiction Epidemics.” Annals of Internal Medicine, April 2, 2020. Accessed April 14, 2020.


Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.