We all feel a bit blindsided by this pandemic. Coronavirus has caused people (even those not in recovery) to panic. But this situation is particularly difficult for recovering addicts and alcoholics who rely on meetings to stay sober. Social distancing (as in, being away from any kind of support group) sounds like a recipe for relapse. So how do people in recovery handle the suggested health measures that preclude them from the fellowship? How do we avoid relapse during social distancing?
Social Distancing Recommendations
The Center for Disease Control and other government organizations have been issuing guidelines for social distancing such as:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Try to arrange working from home
- Avoid inviting visitors
- Don’t attend large group events
- Avoid places like the gym, theater, bars, restaurants, etc
Common sense already kept most people in recovery away from bars, because duh. But the guidelines present an issue for not only strict AA meetings, but other possible places of spiritual support such as church. The very nature of support exposes us to risk. But what happens when the answer to a pandemic, known as social distancing, exposes us to a much greater risk?
Avoiding Relapse During Social Distancing
One of the first rules of recovery we learn is: Don’t isolate. Seek out fellowship.
And this remains true during such a difficult time. We just have to adjust the ways we seek fellowship and stay vigilant about resisting temptation during times of increased isolation. One of the ways already built into the traditional AA structure is calling and texting. We are expected to regularly check in with our sponsors by phone, but this can be extended to other members of your local fellowship too. Many of them provide phone lists of other members willing to offer support to new members.
There are also virtual meetings that can help us feel less isolated. These are some resources for online AA meetings:
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse problem, treatment can offer a path forward to lasting recovery.