Talk to Your Sponsor, Go to an Online Meeting

Isolation is dangerous for people in recovery. Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 has forced much of the nation, and the world, into some form of isolation in order to slow the spread of the disease.

With the persistent spread of the Coronavirus, health officials and others are warning us to maintain social distancing and to avoid people as much as possible. In order to stop the spread of this illness, we are all in effect being put into some degree of isolation.

The difficulty for those of us with addiction and alcoholism is that isolation is one of the primary things we must avoid in order to maintain our recovery. Isolation can be toxic to someone struggling with addiction.

Loneliness and feelings of disconnection are two of the primary engines that drive addiction. When we are using, we seek isolation. When we are in recovery, we need connection with others.

When we are consumed with using alcohol or drugs, the substances become the focus of our energy and attention. We neglect relationships with family, friends, and work. This problem compounds upon itself as we get further engulfed in addiction and alcoholism.

In recovery, it is easy to maintain patterns of behavior that are self-isolating. We often come to recovery with feelings of shame and regret which are difficult to share. But, as we know, sharing these feelings openly with people who have been through similar experiences is one of the central features of successful recovery.

Treatment programs and recovery groups depend on social engagement.

Obviously, the whole business of attending meetings is built on the idea that we are helping ourselves and others by coming together in social gatherings in order to share our experience and feelings toward the common goal of recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. This is why the emergence of COVID-19 and the enforced social separation that has come in its wake is so problematic for people in recovery.

The first thing to do is to consult your sober network. Have a list of people to call, and make sure that list is as extensive as you can make it. I know when I first came into treatment, the first thing I was told to do is to get fifty phone numbers of people in recovery.

First among these people should be your sponsor. Staying connected during this time of social distancing can begin with a tried and true method of 12-step recovery: reaching out to another person in recovery.

If you are able, reach out to people you think may be struggling.

This is Step 12, and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly tells us: “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when all other activities fail.”

Pick up the phone and call someone.

One of the advantages of our great information age is that you can attend meetings online. The online group AA meetings is available 24 hours a day.

For people who are shut up in their homes right now, this can be a lifesaver and make the difference between recovery and relapse. Follow the link in this article and you will find some simple prompts to get you in touch with recovering people online.

There is also a Facebook recovery group. All you need to join Virtual Recovery Meetings is to have a Facebook account. They describe themselves as a group of people in recovery for addiction and alcoholism who need the added benefit of meeting online.

Some members make themselves available for phone calls to members in the online group discussions. During this time of widespread isolation, a group like this can be indispensable. Again, you can follow the link in this article, but you will need a Facebook account.

Isolation is a dangerous condition for people in recovery. The danger of falling into self-pity and despair are great. Let us not forget that isolation was a defining feature of how addiction and alcoholism thrived while we were using and drinking.

But as the threat of the spread of COVID-19 is quite real, and the measures being enforced to slow the spread of this illness become more far reaching, isolation becomes increasingly inevitable. Thankfully, the 21st Century has given us options.

In addition to the tried and true method of calling people in our sober networks, there are online resources available. We can engage others in recovery as we make our way through the current health crisis and maintain our recovery.

For people with years of sobriety, now is the time to reach out to those who are vulnerable. For those who are new to recovery, get involved and stay in touch.

We may well be social distancing on the ground, but there is a world of people engaging each other online and on the phone. Social connections are active even during this difficult time.