Recovery first is the pathway to continued progress. Those who make a daily commitment to prioritize sobriety by attending meetings, working with a sponsor, and paying it forward are destined for success. However, it’s challenging to put your recovery first when the country is in the grips of a deadly public health crisis.
Every American, both in recovery and out, is fully aware that social distancing is of vital importance. For most men and women, that might not be a protocol that’s difficult to adhere to, but for those who rely on mutual support groups, a pandemic presents problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has instructed every American to avoid large crowds and physical interaction. While there isn’t a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 or Coronavirus, there are steps that each of us can take to safeguard our health.
If you are an active member of a recovery community, then you understand that meetings are extremely important for sustaining your program. Discontinuing your attendance at 12 Step groups can significantly put your recovery at risk. So, if you are like most people in sobriety, then you are probably wondering how you are expected to carry on without regular meeting attendance?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to the question above. The fact is that we in the recovery community have never faced anything quite like this in our lifetimes. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded 17 years after the Spanish Flu of 1918. The influenza of the early 20th Century infected some 500 million people (nearly one-third of the world population) and resulted in anywhere from 50 and 100 million casualties.
Even though we have never dealt with a public health crisis like this before, it’s possible to keep your recovery intact.
COVID-19 in Recovery
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines on protecting your health. At PACE Recovery Center, we are following the public health agency’s suggestions in earnest to protect our clients. We hope that you will take the time to learn more about how you can protect yourself amid this most severe crisis.
Now, perhaps more than ever, the fellowship of recovery needs to work together to ensure the programs of millions of people aren’t derailed. Those in recovery – especially early sobriety – cannot isolate from their support network, but that is what the CDC is recommending.
In order to safeguard the recovery of countless individuals, support groups need to adapt in response to the pandemic. While it’s not the job of 12 Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to dole out public health advice, the organization is making recommendations to protect its members.
The General Service Office (G.S.O.) of Alcoholics Anonymous has offered AA Intergroups across the country some valuable advice for handling the crisis. The resource center for AA members has shared what some groups are doing to deal with the pandemic in hopes that it will steer other groups in the right direction. On March 16th, 2020, the G.S.O. issued an updated statement on the crisis. The General Service Office writes:
Our collected experience suggests that groups that are unable to meet at their usual meeting places have begun to meet digitally; doing so in a sensible and helpful manner to allow the group to continue keeping the focus on our common welfare and primary purpose. Some groups that are still meeting in person have shared about making changes to customs at their meetings. Some examples have included: avoiding shaking hands and handholding; making sure meeting hospitality tables are sanitary; or suspending food hospitality for the time being. Many groups have also made contingency plans in case the group is temporarily unable to meet in person.
Recovery Support Groups Contingency Plans
It’s worth noting that some 12 Step groups are still meeting in person despite the elevated threat to member safety. However, the G.S.O. shares that many support groups are going digital. Switching from “in-person” meetings to online is a sound method of preventing disease transmission. Rightly, the G.S.O. points out that regardless of individual group decisions, each member is responsible for their health.
If your health is compromised, such is the case for many in early recovery and especially those with respiratory conditions, then attending meetings could be risky. Such individuals must take steps to protect their progress and sustain their recovery. The G.S.O. recommends:
- Creating Contact Lists
- Staying in Touch with Your Sponsor and Support Group via Telephone
- Utilizing Email and Social Media
- Conducting Meetings by Phone or Video Conference.
The best thing you can do for your recovery at this time is to maintain constant contact with your support network. If you require further guidance, then utilize your local AA resources. Contact the AA intergroup or central office in your area. You can also turn to AA websites for more information.
Southern California Gender-Specific Recovery Center
At PACE Recovery Center, we encourage you to strike a balance between your physical and mental well-being. Please do not take unnecessary risks and again stay in touch with your support network as much as possible. You have the power to sustain your recovery and protect your health during this unprecedented time.
Please contact PACE if you are an adult male struggling with addiction or mental illness. We offer several evidence-based programs that can help you begin and sustain a journey of lasting recovery.