Community//

How Coronavirus is Changing the Recovery Community

Society is going through a massive paradigm shift. Over the past several months we have had to wrap our minds around the idea that most of our in-person interactions are being replaced with a computer screen.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
How Coronavirus is Changing the Recovery Community

Image Licensed by Adobe Stock

By Dr. Geoffrey Booth founder of LifeSync Malibu

This is also the case when it comes to the recovery community. Suddenly the outpatient therapy sessions and 12-step meetings are taking place via online technology apps. All this is causing profound changes in the way that recovery support is being delivered during the coronavirus crisis.

People in addiction recovery understand the value of connection. Establishing strong personal support through participating in meetings and support groups is an essential aspect of sustaining a healthy recovery. So, now that we are practicing social distancing and other safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19, how can individuals in recovery continue to feel connected in a real way?

Since the entire world is dealing with the disruptions caused by coronavirus, and with little clarity about how long this pandemic will impact us, it is important that the recovery community adapts to the new COVID-19 landscape and take advantage of the various new forms of delivering support. Better to embrace these temporary inconveniences than ignore the significance of accessing peer and clinical support in recovery.

3 Ways Addiction Recovery Providers are Adapting Services During Coronavirus

The need for accessible addiction treatment and recovery support does not go away because we are in a pandemic. If anything, the need for these services is enhanced at this time, due to the stressors accompanying stay-at-home orders. To manage the stress, consumption of alcohol has increased dramatically over the past three months. In addition, mental health issues are currently emerging at an alarming rate.

Acknowledging the need for addiction and mental health services during coronavirus, addiction treatment providers have taken steps to continue offering needed services in the following ways:

  1. Shifting outpatient treatment services online. Outpatient rehabs have moved treatment services online during the pandemic. The use of technology allows the rehab to devise an intensive outpatient program that is revised for the current situation, while still providing the structure and continuity of an outpatient program.
  1. Shifting outpatient treatment services online. Outpatient rehabs have moved treatment services online during the pandemic. The use of technology allows the rehab to devise an intensive outpatient program that is revised for the current situation, while still providing the structure and continuity of an outpatient program.
  1. Shifting outpatient treatment services online. Outpatient rehabs have moved treatment services online during the pandemic. The use of technology allows the rehab to devise an intensive outpatient program that is revised for the current situation, while still providing the structure and continuity of an outpatient program.

Using Video Conferencing Systems to Provide Outpatient Therapy

The same video conferencing technologies that are used in business environments have become a godsend to the recovery industry during the pandemic. While nothing truly replaces the intimacy of an in-person therapy session, the video platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype allow clinical services to be delivered.

 Online video therapy sessions are provided in both one-on-one individual sessions or group sessions. In the individual therapy sessions, the client signs on with the therapist and basically conducts the session on their computer or tablet screen. All of the usual engagement involved in a therapy session will be exactly the same, just not in the same physical space. The group sessions allow multiple clients to sign on and participate in a discussion facilitated by the therapist or clinician. 

Online counseling sessions have been incredibly helpful to individuals in recovery who are struggling with triggers and anxiety during coronavirus. This format, while not ideal, allows people in need of support, during a particularly challenging period in history, to access therapeutic services.

Keeping Residential Rehabs Safe 

Inpatient or residential treatment remains the cornerstone of addiction recovery services. The essential services classification given to drug and alcohol detox and rehabilitation centers has allowed the residential programs to continue to operate during the pandemic. 

Guidelines published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine have provided safety precautions tailored to residential rehab programs.

To maintain safe treatment facilities, rehabs have adopted these precautions:

  • Screening (or testing) for COVID-19 
  • Isolate clients who later show symptoms
  • Limit or prohibit visitors
  • Provide personal protective equipment for staff
  • Undertake thorough cleaning and sterilization procedures

With these measures in place, residential rehabs are able to continue providing essential services to individuals in need of treatment for a substance use disorder.

Online 12-Step Meetings for Ongoing Peer Support

Most rehabs introduce clients to the 12-step recovery program while they are in treatment. Many addiction treatment providers also offer alternatives to the A.A. program, such as SMART Recovery and others. These meetings are introduced because being involved in a recovery community has been found to be a protective factor in preventing relapse.

In recovery, many individuals regularly participate in a local recovery community. There they find fellowship, support, and purpose, which in turn help them sustain sobriety. During this pandemic, recovery communities have deftly shifted over to virtual meetings. Individuals can access a wide array of meetings via video conferencing software, and from the comfort of their home. In fact, the convenience aspect of the online meetings may ensure that these remain a regular option after the pandemic is behind us. 

Re-openings May Allow for More Flexibility Soon

No one has a crystal ball. Unfortunately, we are all in a holding pattern until each of our states declare the “all clear,” which may be a little while. However, increasingly states and local governments are opening up in phases, allowing for more freedom of movement while citizens continue to practice safety guidelines.

Hopefully, this will translate to making some creative adjustments in how group therapy sessions and recovery meetings are conducted—moving from 100% online toward a modified in-person format. Individual ingenuity comes into play, where people devise solutions that will allow small groups to safely gather again. Meetings may be conducted outdoors with chairs spaced 6 feet apart, for example, and everyone wearing a facemask. Access to recovery care will slowly improve because where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Coronavirus Stress and Relapse
    Community//

    Addressing Coronavirus Stress and Relapse

    by Patty Bell
    benefits of telehealth druing covid-19
    Community//

    6 Benefits of Telehealth During Covid-19

    by Ken Seeley
    First Responders First//

    “Running Has Been an Antidote to the Fear”: A Social Worker on How She’s Managing Stress During the Fight Against the Coronavirus

    by Tara Derington

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.