During the shutdowns and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, men and women across the nation struggling with addition used technology to find or maintain sobriety. The pandemic posed challenges for those already in recovery and others who began excessively abusing alcohol.
A national survey of U.S. adults on their drinking habits showed that excessive drinking increased by 21% during the pandemic. In addition to COVID deaths, alcohol abuse from the pandemic will cause an estimated 8,000 deaths from liver disease. Many more will experience liver failure or cancer.
As facilities that supported recovery meetings were closed due to the shutdowns, many groups adopted Zoom as their new meeting place. One alcoholic with five years of sobriety said, “We started as a small local meeting group on Zoom and were surprised to see our group grow to hundreds of members from across the country. The worst thing you can do in recovery is sit at home doing nothing. You need the fellowship and we found a way to make it work on Zoom.”
This was not an unusual trend and a lot of these meetings kept finding themselves with new members. A simple Google provided us with access to groups from Barcelona to Zurich. The AA Intergroup keeps a list of most meetings on their website with information about the group, where its located and topic.
Finding sobriety for the first time
Zoom provided a way to facilitate meetings, coordinate discussions and once we got into the routine it was a great option. Individuals we spoke to with long terms of sobriety stressed that in-person meetings are better for the individual in recovery, but suggested that Zoom seemed more welcoming to newcomers.
“Through the pandemic, it felt like my drinking was getting out of control. I had never been to any sort of recovery group before, but I Googled online AA meetings and there were so many,” said Greg G. “I found myself going to two and three meetings a day and traveling across the country virtually. To be honest, I don’t know if I could have gotten the courage to go to a in-person meeting. With Zoom, I could decide if I wanted to stay, keep my video on or participate.”
Across the world, people like Greg found the same fellowship. Providing a level of access to free programs unavailable before.
Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other online meeting platforms facilitated business continuation and has become widely accepted instead of travel. Recovery programs and their participants have found the same benefit.
In need of help?
If you find yourself needing help, please call the SAMHSA’s National Helpline. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or text : 435748 (HELP4U), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. This is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service. This service is for individuals and family members facing mental or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals for treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.