Recovery from substance abuse is a long, arduous journey, probably the hardest thing I have ever done. However, it is easily the most rewarding and worthwhile thing I have ever done outside of being a parent. One thing that made my journey possible was the fellowship I developed with other recovering addicts and alcoholics after I was released from residential treatment. Going to my aftercare treatment group was the highlight of my week. The same was true of the 12-step meetings I attended. I developed life-long friendships both during and after our meetings where many of us would go out to eat or have coffee.
During these current times, as we all navigate through a ‘new normal’, it can be really hard to receive the treatment necessary for rehabilitation. I personally cannot imagine having to go through early recovery during the time of COVID. Few (if any) treatment centers are doing onsite and in-person outpatient group therapy, and more than half of the 12-step meetings in the area are held online. That lack of in-person contact makes recovery, especially early on, a much more treacherous journey than it was when I went through it.
That does not mean it is impossible! It only means it will take a little creative thinking and some extra work.
One of the simplest ways to alleviate the isolation you might feel is to go to a 12-step meeting. The Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous websites label which meetings that are taking place in person and which are virtual. So, you can find a meeting near you where other addicts and alcoholics will be gathered. Go to the meeting and when they ask if there are any newcomers there simply raise your hand and introduce yourself. Let them know you’re struggling with the isolation that COVID restrictions have caused and that you’re looking for some fellowship to help you stay sober/clean.
For me, it was scary to take that step; however, that leap of faith resulted in me making friends that I still have to this day. Chances are that there are other people in the room that feel the exact same way and will be relieved that you asked. Ask the group members if they would like to grab some coffee or lunch/dinner either before the next meeting or after the meeting you are in.
Another thing to keep in mind; you do not have to identify as an alcoholic to go to AA meetings nor do you have to identify as an addict to go to NA meetings. As long as you’re in recovery you can go to whatever meeting you prefer, just make sure you follow the traditions of each fellowship while there.
If you are doing aftercare or intensive outpatient treatment, you can ask the counselor if you can try to organize a group coffee meeting in person with other members of the online group outside the confines of the virtual meeting. These are just a few suggestions that I would try and by no means is it a complete list. This is just a starting point for you to start creating ways to surround yourself with people that can relate and get you back on your feet.
The web addresses and phone numbers for both the local and national AA/NA are listed below, and you can always call us at New Beginnings Treatment Center for further suggestions. Remember, the key to your recovery is your willingness to do whatever it takes to stay clean. Rehabilitation in the time of COVID may take a little more willingness but is no less achievable.
Charlotte, North Carolina Alcoholics Anonymous (24 Hour Hotline): 704-332-4387
Alcoholics Anonymous: 1-800-839-1686
Carolina Region of Narcotics Anonymous: 704- 366-8980
Narcotics Anonymous: 1.818.773.9999