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Coronavirus: 12-step alcohol, drug prevention packages meet on-line – The Columbus Dispatch

As people are increasingly being asked to stay at home, 12-tier organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which rely on face-to-face group meetings, are turning to virtual meetings.

Megan still feels the emotional connection with her Narcotics Anonymous colleagues as she meets online, but something is missing.

"You will be hugged if you have several people in the door of an NA meeting. I forgot how important this is," said Megan, a local member of the 12-tier group.

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Nevertheless, members from Central Ohio, like Megan, who are addressed by their first names to protect their identities, are getting used to the 13 new virtual meetings, which are the approximately 100 common weekly meetings in the EU area as additional precautions are taken due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The meetings and related community are important to people who are recovering from addictions, some of whom have been sober for decades. With 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous, Megan said.

Local groups of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous have had virtual meetings over the past few weeks to stay engaged and help addicted people connect with others as isolation can threaten sobriety, they said .

Meanwhile, treatment and detoxification centers remain open and they plan to remain open, said Richard Mason, recreational accommodation coordinator at the House of Hope.

"For people who maintain mental health, addiction treatment is extremely important to continue, especially in times of crisis," said the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The agency also noted that the governor had signed an order to expand telehealth services.

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for Megan. The new format for your anonymous narcotic meetings went better than expected.

"I was kind of worried about losing the human element of closeness and sharing," she said. "They still felt that this connection … I think love comes through a screen at this level."

About two weeks ago, Megan and Paul served with her in the Central Ohio region. The Service Committee for Narcotics Anonymous and other local volunteers began to investigate how they met members without face-to-face meetings due to COVID-19 concerns could support.

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The governor's order to limit meetings to 50, and the President's subsequent policy that Americans have meetings with more When avoiding 10 people, the groups indicated that they had to find an alternative.

On March 13, Paul and Megan connected to Virtual NA, an online service that enables people around the world to attend online NA meetings, and the two learned how to use virtual meetings for local people Groups can be set up. The next day, the two groups held their first virtual pilot meeting, and it went smoothly, Paul said.

"People called (when the virus spread and social detachment was recommended) and asked: & # 39; What am I going to do?" Because this meeting, this community has allowed us to clean to stay, "Megan said." It's scary. "

Volunteers like Paul and Megan have started to use the group's website, nacentralohio.org, with meeting cancellations, information about accessing virtual meetings, and more

You will next work with others around the world to find out how you can best reach new program participants.The group in Central Ohio hosted the first LGBTQ meeting on Saturday to Virtual Narcotics Anonymous, Paul said.

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Das Centra Ohio Group Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has also turned to technology to hold some meetings, said Patty, the office manager.

The office tries to regularly update its aacentralohio.org website with meeting cancellations. She said and there will be constant calls and emails about failure of meetings.

The group covers approximately two thirds of the state and has 972 assemblies registered on its website. Around 300 meetings were canceled by Friday, Patty said, but she knows there are other cancellations that groups have not informed about.

Instead of canceling, some groups get creative and meet in smaller groups in parks or walks during their meetings in a spirit of maintaining the recommended "social distancing," she said.

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Patty has also heard of sponsors who invite some of the members they sponsor to small meetings in their homes .

"Thank goodness this happened in the technological age," said Patty.

Starting This week a new list of online meetings has been added to the website.

Chris, who regularly attends local meetings, decided to use his technological skills to start a video meeting. There are national gatherings that are held online, but Chris thought it would be nice to have local ones too, especially when people started staying in their homes.

"It's nice to see local people you know," he said.

Chris, Megan and Paul are all trying to make the meetings as authentic and personal as possible.

Everyone also recommends that members stay in touch with each other and with their sponsors if they have one, because they get used to staying more at home and not personally meeting with their groups.

"We believe that what we cannot do alone, we can do together," said Paul. "We will find a way to stay together and that will work."

At Chris’s first meeting on March 16, there was good participation and people liked the web format, he said.

"It feels a lot like a face-to-face meeting, except without coffee," he joked. "I made it myself."

Chris arranged a meeting for Monday and Wednesday, and someone also turned to him about Tuesday. He also had other expressions of interest.

"As there is need, I hope there will be online meetings every day that people can attend," he said.

For meeting cancellation information, online meeting access, and more, visit www.nacentralohio.org and www.aacentralohio.org.

dking@dispatch.com

@DanaeKing

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