Grateful Recovering Online Women

Frequently Asked Questions

What is GROW?

GROW stands for the Grateful Recovering Online Women's Group of Alcoholics Anonymous. Founded in 1998, GROW is for women who have a desire not to drink. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other women to achieve sobriety.

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How, where and when does GROW meet?

We meet by E-mail, so we're "open" 24 hours a day! Subscribed members can send mail to the group list service which is then distributed to all members. Each Sunday a meeting leader sends out the week's topic. Throughout the week we can choose when to attend, logging on any time of day or night to participate in an A.A. meeting.

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What if I want to share on something besides the topic?

In GROW we share both on- and off-topic. We ask that members carefully consider if an "off-topic" post is appropriate for an A.A. meeting and that the subject line always indicate whether an E-mail is on- or off-topic.

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Do I have to share?

We are, of course, eager to get to know you but no one is required to share. You are welcome to listen and observe. As you begin to hear the hearts of grateful recovering women, we hope our experience, strength, and hope will make your road a little easier and your faith in A.A. a little stronger.

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How will anyone know I have joined the group?

When you subscribe, you will receive an E-mail from our Greeter, who will ask you to write a paragraph or two about yourself. She will use what you write to introduce you to the group. Prepare yourself for lots of warm welcome messages -- we love new members!

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What does it cost to participate?

There are no dues or fees to be a GROW member. To help pay for expenses, such as listserver and website costs -- and in accordance with A.A.'s 7th Tradition -- we "pass the basket" here in cyberspace just as in traditional meetings. 7th Tradition reminders with information about how to contribute are sent to the list periodically and the Treasurer submits reports during the business meetings.

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I think I may have a drinking problem, but I'm not sure. Can I still be a member of GROW?

By all means. We welcome you and hope you will join us. GROW is for alcoholic women and/or women who wish to learn how A.A. might help them stop drinking. We have experienced some pretty amazing recoveries with women just like yourself. Send an email request to and ask to join.

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Is GROW a "real" A.A. group?

Yes! We meet the definition of an A.A. group provided by the General Service Conference (U.S. & Canada): "any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves a group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation."

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Do you adhere to the 12 Traditions?

Yes, GROW is firmly rooted in the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. We have spent considerable time studying the traditions and how they can be applied to online A.A. meetings. Our interpretation of the Traditions In Cyberspace is based on our collective experience and history with meetings on the Internet.

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How does a meeting of GROW compare to a "live" meeting?

A.A. is very much alive in cyberspace. Our meeting format is similar to a live (face-to-face or f2f) meeting. Once a week, a member sends out a meeting topic with traditional opening and closing readings. Members then share their experience, strength, and hope on the topic throughout the week.

Many of us attended face-to-face meetings long before we discovered the Internet. For some, this online experience has rekindled our interest and participation in f2f meetings. Some members found A.A. through the Internet and are now very active members in their local home groups.

We also have members who are homebound or who can't attend f2f meetings for a variety of reasons, such as illness or disability. Some live in remote areas, or work odd hours. Deaf members who can't hear at f2f meetings don't have to miss a word here! Online meetings meet many needs, reaching around the globe, carrying the message, just as postal mail has done for loners over the years.

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How does GROW conduct business?

GROW has a separate mail list to handle group business. Discussions related to how the group operates take place only on this list, just as f2f groups hold business meetings separate from their regular A.A. meetings. Business meetings are scheduled twice a year. Reminders with information about how to subscribe to the Business List are sent to the group on a regular basis. During the meeting, summaries are sent to the entire group, and the minutes are posted in the Members section of our website.

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Service is so important to recovery. How does that work online?

GROW provides many opportunities for service work, a cornerstone of our sobriety. We rely on our trusted servants and steering committee to help keep the group running smoothly.

Besides the familiar positions found in most face-to-face A.A. groups, we also have trusted servants responsible for the tasks necessary to maintain an online group. We have a 12 Step committee and maintain a list of women who are willing to serve as online sponsors. You can sign up for either or both of these.

We can serve the group by welcoming new members; sending birthday greetings to celebrants; sending hugs and encouragement to someone hurting; and writing private letters to members -- just as you would make a phone call f2f.

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How are trusted servants selected?

Our trusted servant positions are filled by volunteers. When a position needs to be filled we call for volunteers and nominations for a period of one week. If only one member meeting the criteria suggested by group conscience volunteers, she's our new trusted servant. If more than one member volunteers, we vote. We maintain a list of all trusted servants and periodically send it to the group.

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How can you possibly feel connected with strangers you never meet?

You will be amazed, just as we have been, to find yourself forming lasting friendships with women you may never meet f2f. We laugh, cry, identify, and even disagree sometimes. We share more openly than most of us ever imagined possible. In fact, some of us have met face-to-face and in that meeting experienced a bond that is difficult to describe. We find that we haven't been distracted because of physical appearance, body language, or speech patterns; we already know each other's spirits. Yes, we can and do become well connected.

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I'm afraid of mail lists because I keep hearing about "flame wars." What are they exactly and what does GROW do if they happen?

Flaming refers to an E-mail that attacks an individual or group. One flame escalates into a "flame war" when two or more individuals begin exchanging flames publicly. GROW adheres to the First Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, placing our common welfare first (see Traditions in Cyberspace). Individuals who display a pattern of disruptive behavior toward group members may be unsubscribed from the list in accordance with group guidelines.

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I'm a little nervous about my anonymity on the Internet. What does GROW do to guarantee privacy?

We cannot guarantee anonymity on the Internet. However, privacy is of paramount importance to us and we make every effort to protect it. GROW rents a list service (our equivalent to a church basement), and only members who are subscribed to this list can post to the group, or receive mail from members through the list service. People surfing the Internet cannot stumble in to our meeting without subscribing. Our experience with online meetings has also taught us some simple courtesies that help us protect our anonymity.

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How do I join GROW?

That's easy! You simply send a note to our listkeepers by writing to If mail lists are something new to you, remember, we're all pretty new to Cyberspace. We're learning and GROW'ing together!

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