COVID-19 Infiltrating & Stealing from 12-Step Programs for Addicts/Alcoholics

COVID-19 Infiltrating & Stealing from 12-Step Programs for Addicts/Alcoholics

12-step programs are experiencing obstacles they have never seen before. I am absolutely blessed with long-term recovery as a result of working a 12-step program. I embarked on this journey in early 2004 when I admitted myself to a recovery center. Although I believe there are multiple pathways to recovery (AA, NA, SMART Recovery & more), mine has been paved by the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

One of the most essential elements to a 12-step program and successful recovery is interacting with other members of the recovery community. We do this in a variety of different ways. We have our meetings where we share our experience, strength, and hope with each other and make ourselves available for the next sick & suffering alcoholic/addict. We meet one-on-one with our sponsors to be taken through the 12 steps, we go to recovery centers to share our stories with people just getting started with their recovery process, we gather at a members home for Big Book studies, we have our service work that we do to help us learn to give of ourselves freely with no expectation of reward, we meet at diners and other public places to simply share life experiences (past, present, and future) to be supportive of one another, we have retreats and public events that we attend together, this list can go on and on but the point is, we rely heavily on social interactions with each other.

Certainly, in my little corner of the world (Northern Delaware), COVID-19 has infiltrated the recovery community, just as it is doing globally. As a result of the restrictions, rightfully placed on our communities, COVID-19 is creating many obstacles for 12-step programs that we have never seen before. It has stolen those hugs we often give each other at meetings, stolen the hands bonded together while we say our Serenity Prayer, and it has stolen that warm embrace to the new comer walking through those meeting doors for their first time. All of the above mentioned interactions are essential pillars to successful recovery.

So now what? We simply do the same things that we’ve been doing since Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the First 100 have been teaching us from the beginning: we practice the principals of the program in all of our affairs and in by doing so, we incorporate behavioral change with a continued spiritual presence. The manner in which we achieve this, however, will be unlike anything 12-step programs have ever seen before. We have never been as reliant on technology as we are in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing has moved us to meetings hosted by technology such as Zoom or our precious time with our sponsors (& sponsees) now being facilitated by Facetime. We will continue to share our experience, strength, & hope, we will continue to be of service, and we will continue (social distancing or not) to remain united.

You see, we have something that COVID-19 does not… a Power greater than ourselves and there is no doubt in any of us that, that Power is also far greater than COVID-19. For all of us in recovery community and familiar with the teachings of the 12-steps, remember, “this too shall pass”, and when it does, we’ll steal back everything that COVID-19 has taken, but with far more passion! Those hugs will be stronger & longer, the hands bonded together will be tighter, our Serenity Prayer will be said in unity & with more conviction, and that warm embrace to the new comer will be with far more gratitude and love than ever before!

God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
and Wisdom to know the Difference”

– Written by: An RCA Treatment Advocate

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