By Diane Cameron, author of Out of the Woods: A Woman’s Guide to Long-term Recovery
In my community—just like yours—Twelve-step recovery meetings are being suspended. We’re following the guidelines for “social distancing,” and many of the host locations for meetings—churches and community centers are closed. So, our most familiar recovery tool, the homegroup, is not available.
It’s unsettling and scary. We are worried about our health, our jobs, and our loved ones. Kids are home and daycares are closed. All that adds up to financial insecurity, and over-the-top stress.
But here’s the thing: we are recovery people! We have a tool kit unlike any other. We have networks of recovering people, literature, sponsors, and our sponsees.
Sponsees as a resource? Absolutely.
You know how in slightly more normal times we learned that working with newcomers and people with a shorter time in recovery is a help to them but also help us. Let’s lean into that principle now. It is important to remember right now: newcomers will be having a much harder time. And for all of us, our substances and behaviors are more tempting.
People who are not in recovery are joking about stress eating and stress-shopping. People on the verge of addiction or who are in recovery may be more tempted to reach for drugs and alcohol than candy and credit cards.
Remember how it worked when you were new? You called your sponsor every day—or you left voicemail messages just to check-in. You said things on voicemail that you needed to say out loud and you trusted that you were heard. Your sponsor called back as needed. You called people you barely knew and practiced recovery behaviors. You read literature and did service. You got relief and another sober day.
Make those same deals now with your friends in recovery. Make your voicemail available to others. Tell “younger” folks that they can call you.
And, use the literature. Pull the big blue book off your shelf. What a great time to commit to reading The Big Book cover to cover again. I guarantee you’ll see things there you never saw before.
Double the effect by making that commitment with a sober friend and keep checking in, “What page are you on?”
Of course, technology is on our side during this public health crisis. There are hundreds of online meetings, Zoom and conference call video meetings, and meetings by telephone call. Facebook is listing many of them and regional service groups have listed the video/phone and conference meetings on their websites. They are available for AA, NA, Alanon, GA, OA, and every group.
Give these a try and help newcomers adjust to the new formats.
Remember, the tools of recovery have helped us get through many hard things, and they will help us get through the current public health crisis. Put your hand out and take the hand that is reaching for you as well. One day at a time we will get through this and come out on the other side with strong recovery and new friends.