During COVID-19, social distancing is essential for keeping people health. This also means that face-to-face mutual aid groups have stopped meeting in person, and providers have changed the ways they are delivering their services.
Experts say that social distancing and isolation of the coronavirus pandemic may put people struggling with addiction at risk for relapse. Feeling stressed, isolated and scared may drive them back to substance abuse.
“Just because work’s closing, just because schools are shutting down, doesn’t mean addiction is going away,” says Patrick Kullman, executive director of the Landmark Recovery rehabilitation center in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Addiction didn’t stop just because the coronavirus kicked up in full gear – it’s still here, and so is recovery,” Kullman says.
Options available for those struggling:
- How to attend 12 step meetings remotely
- Alternatives to 12 step programs
- What to do if you have a phone but no internet
What do we know about online meetings?
- Online meetings existed before COVID-19
- There is an intergroup for online meetings: aa-intergroup.org
Your social media feeds may be scattered with memes and posts normalizing drinking and smoking weed as ways to cope during isolation. And despite lockdown orders, dispensaries and liquor stores remain open as essential businesses, adding another layer of temptation.
Types of meetings:
- Phone line meeting: Held via land line or mobile phone
- Phone or Online: Accessible by internet or telephone
- Closed: Only for those who identify as individuals with additions
- Open: All are welcome to attend but sharing is restricted to those who identify as individuals with addictions
- Online meeting: Held via internet connection
Obstacles to Remote Meetings:
- Unfamiliarity, apprehension, fear
- Error calculating the time change
- Need an internet connection
- Phone meeting lists are on the internet!
- Uses up phone minutes
Upsides of Remote Meetings:
- Ability to connect with all-important abstinent-specific social support
- You can attend anonymously by stopping video, you can change the way your name appears, you can listen, no need to participate
- You can phone in while going for a walk, doing dishes, folding laundry
- No travel time and no cost of gas or bus fare
Additional Upsides: Wide Range of Diverse Meetings
- Women’s meetings
- LGBTQ+A meetings
- Alternatives to 12-step
- Veteran and Active Duty
Women for Sobriety: “helps all women find their individual path to recovery, abstinence-based self-help program for women facing issues of alcohol or drug addiction. (Has remote meetings)
AA.org: at the top of the site, click “Updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
List of US and international AA meetings: Meetings are listed in Pacific Time Zone so add two hours to convert to Central Time.
Gamblers Anonymous: has added additional phone meetings since COVID-19 crisis. Their hotline is 855-222-5542
SMART Recovery: Self-Management and Recovery Training: “participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction (to drugs or alcohol or to activities such as gambling or over-eating) Offers remote meetings.
LifeRing Secular Recovery: Offers online meetings
AA Agnostica: a website featuring blog entries, essays, and links to resources for individuals who do not care for the religious/spiritual/theistic aspects of AA. They also feature a comprehensive list of alternative wordings for the 12-steps. To access online meetings, click on one of their secular group websites.
Research on 12-Step Alternatives: Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, and SMART Recovery
- Members of these alternative groups were less religious, had more education and greater incomes, and went to fewer in-person meetings than 12 step members
- Members of alternative groups rated their groups higher on satisfaction and cohesion than 12 step members did
- Women For Sobriety and LifeRing members were older, more likely to be married, and their addiction and mental health problems were less severe than 12 step members
@ Valentin Bravo Son, Administrator Manager; full time student.