As we all follow social distancing guidelines, we still have to attend AA and NA meetings and maintain the crucial connection that comes from one addict talking to another.
There has never been a time in the history of Alcoholics Anonymous quite like this one. AA’s General Service Office in New York wrote an open letter to the community of March 19, 2020. While each AA group is autonomous, the Central Service Office in New York has provided information about how to attend digital meetings during this time of crisis and disease prevention.
Right now, every country in the world and every state in the US has different guidelines in place related to social distancing. Likewise, every AA group may also have their own rules. The most important thing to remember, though, is that we can remain connected to our fellows through this pandemic.
If you are at home and need to find an online meeting, AA Step Online has a meeting calendar that can anyone can use to find a meeting at a time that works best for them.
Isolation has always been a hot topic when it comes to the disease of addiction. Long before COVID-19 and this pandemic arrived, the disease of isolation has plagued addicts and alcoholics. We, perhaps better than anyone, know that isolating can be mentally dangerous. Isolation can can trigger depression, anxiety, fear, and those emotions can lead us back to drinking or using. But, here’s the good news. We already know how careful we need to be to prevent feeling isolated.
WE are a community of people who faced isolation long before COVID-19. Collectively, we have so much experience, strength, and hope about breaking the cycle of isolation. We, who attend twelve-step meetings, still have a path towards connection – and that connection remains whether we can stand in a circle and hold hands or not.
There are ways to remain connected and even improve connection through crisis. Here are a few ideas:
Literally everyone needs help right now. Addicts and alcoholics in recovery have a tried and true coping mechanism that helps us get out of ourselves. We do service work.
A month ago, service work might have meant cleaning up after a meeting and washing the coffee pot. It could have meant talking to another suffering alcoholic. Now, we have even more opportunities to perform service work. And, being of service helps diffuse isolation. It gives our lives purpose and meaning. And, helping others gets us out of our own way. Perhaps, more than another time in the history of AA, service work is the key to getting us through crisis.
If you are in residential treatment, like Breakthrough Recovery Outreach, the staff may suggest ways for your community to be of service. But, you can be of service on your own, too.
ONE thing we can all do right now is practice social distancing, act responsibly, and love our fellow man. Social distancing IS an act of service, after all. Hand washing is an act of service. Delivering groceries to an elderly person, and leaving them at their doorstep is an act of service. Praying for one another is an act of service.
LET WHAT YOU CAN DO EMPOWER YOU
Every challenge in sobriety offers us the opportunity to use our pain as a means for change. The twelve steps allows us to change who we are, the relationships we hold dear, and our connection to God, and one another. Those of us who have taken ONE action to get sober already know about the power of pain. It is pain that drives us to seek help, pain that brings us together in meetings, pain that pushes us to write fourth and fifth steps, pain that inspires us through to get to the other side of addiction – sobriety.
We can use our pain now, too. Here’s what I’m doing. Years ago, my sponsor suggested I begin emailing my father. I took the suggestion and it has been the best suggestion I’ve ever taken. But, right now, he is in Florida, and the written word doesn’t seem to be enough – even for me who lives to write. Last week I made a decision to stop writing him and start calling him. I didn’t email him because I didn’t like talking to him. I did it because I wanted to save his replies and go back to reread them. But, last week, I thought about how much COVID-19 is stealing from the world right now. I wanted to steal something from it. So, I decided to stop emailing my father and start calling him every day instead. And, you know what I got that writing never offered me? The sound of his laughter.
So, I encourage you to do something to connect with those who matter most to you, those you know, and those you don’t right now.
OUR HEARTS DO NOT HAVE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING
If you or someone you know is struggling with the disease of addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us and let our community become yours.