Online Group Recovery Meetings Are Safe And Effective.
Our society is undergoing serious changes. Due to the COVID-19 virus, people are learning to stay home, avoiding public places. Many of us are finding that the adjustment to physical isolation from the rest of the world is not as hard as we anticipated. However, there is one area where in-person social contact has always been important. Addiction recovery fellowship meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous, rely on the uplifting, spiritual experience of being in a room with other recovering people.
Going to meetings every week can help you to stay clean.
Most people in recovery who go to meetings go to at least a few per week. When you first get started, they recommend that you go to a meeting every single day for at least three months. So, now that the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends social distancing and avoiding meetings of large groups of people, how is it possible for you to attend these meetings now?
Meetings are for support, not medical treatment.
In recent years, experts in the fields of psychology and psychiatry have called into doubt the benefits of going to peer support meetings. Studies and meta-studies have shown that only a small, dedicated group of people benefit from 12-step and other types of recovery support meetings. Some studies have even demonstrated that meetings may be harmful to some people who attend. Does this mean that you should finally give up the idea of going to meetings altogether? Why go to something that probably won’t help anyway?
First, the issue is not whether or not meetings can treat addiction. We should not expect peer support programs to provide medical treatment for medical conditions. However, there is still value in building a support network of other people you can be friends with and talk to regularly.
Medication-assisted treatment will be most successful with proper support.
An addiction treatment doctor once described medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to me as being like a three-legged stool. The three legs were medical treatment, individual therapy, and group therapy. He believed that 12-step meetings or similar support group meetings fulfilled the need for group therapy. He called it a three-legged stool because he thought that treatment would fail if a patient did not engage in all three areas, just like a three-legged stool would fall over if it were missing a leg.
So, meetings are still relevant as a way to connect with others who are on the same path to recovering from active addiction to alcohol or drugs. How do we go to meetings now that public health authorities tell us to avoid gathering in large groups? Fortunately, there are online meetings to take the place of in-person recovery meetings, at least for the time being.
Older fellowships are scrambling to adjust to meeting online.
If you are already committed to a particular fellowship, such as NA or AA, you may want to check in by phone with members of the groups that you attend. It is very likely with the current once-in-a-lifetime experience of a global pandemic that your local groups are adjusting to the current societal changes. COVID-19 is forcing us to rethink our typical daily routines and find new ways to do things that keep us and others safe.
On the other hand, if you are not yet committed to going to a particular organization’s meetings, you may want to consider attending meetings online from one of the organizations that have more experience in providing online group meetings. AA and NA have been around for many decades and are entrenched in society with in-person group meetings throughout most communities around the world. Newer institutions, founded much later than NA and AA, learned to leverage online technology to reach people everywhere.
If you are just getting started, consider a newer alternative type of meeting.
While the old 12-step groups have quickly scrambled to adjust to a new world, you may find comfort in online meetings that have been online for a long time now, long before a crisis has forced us to do our meetings online. For example, there is LifeRing. This secular alternative to the 12-step groups does not require any prayers or belief in a higher power. LifeRing also does not discriminate against people who take medication to treat addiction.
Another example is SMART Recovery. If you are interested in psychology, you will find SMART to be intriguing. This innovative organization provides meetings based on modern science using specific tools, such as REBT and CBT, MET. If you are looking for online chats and group meetings, SMART Recovery has been doing them from the beginning.
From Science Fiction To Scientifically Proven Treatment
Claudia Christian, the star of a long-running science fiction classic series, Babylon 5, has become the spokesperson for a movement of people across the world who have had great success with The Sinclair Method (TSM). TSM is a method for getting sober. People who suffer from alcohol use disorder may have had difficulty in getting sober with traditional rehab or AA meetings because of the alcohol deprivation effect. This is what happens when a person quits drinking suddenly and without medical treatment. They suffer continually from persistent cravings and are at high risk of relapse. TSM uses the drug naltrexone to help people reduce their intake of alcohol. Ms. Christian has formed a non-profit organization named, the C3Foundation. Part of the services provided by this organization includes group meetings and support that are all online. Here is an interview with Claudia Christian about The Sinclair Method and naltrexone.
Stay safe, but stay connected!
During your time at home, staying safe from COVID-19, you may want to consider trying out a variety of online meetings and chat rooms focused on recovery. You may find that online sessions work well for you and help you to focus on your success in recovery. And, without the anxiety and social pressure of being at a meeting in person, you will have more freedom to enjoy the benefits of connecting with other people in recovery from the safety and comfort of your home.