Many addiction recovery people go online to meet Alcoholics Anonymous and Anonymous Narcotics or rely on phone calls for help as the coronavirus pandemic restricts public gatherings.
"Given the recommendations for public health and safety, AA's Small Mall Group has decided to close the 12 noon daily and Saturday 2pm meeting until further notice," said a sign at the Center Meeting House in the 203 N. Washington St. at Winchester on Tuesday, which also included sponsor phone numbers. “To keep our sobriety healthy and strong, we want our A.A. Friends in need have to contact and speak by phone. “
In the Edgehill Recovery Center with 21 patients, the last personal meetings ended on Friday due to virus concerns, said Managing Director Deborah Millette.
"We tried to stay open as long as possible," she said. "It's a struggle for some people who meet at a computer without that human contact and the hug of recovery that helps so many of us."
Relapses often occur during recovery, but the lack of regular personal contact. Face dialogue, recent job loss, and fear of infection are new obstacles to maintaining the sobriety caused by the virus that by Tuesday afternoon had killed over 17,500 people worldwide, including six in Virginia. Since many drug users have criminal records, it is difficult to find employment. The economic crash caused by the virus has exacerbated this.
Tiffany Cadoree, coordinator for the treatment of adults in the Northwest, said many of the court's 35 clients had lost their jobs. The drug court team and recovery providers will try to help them find new jobs, apply for unemployment, or find housing if they have lost their jobs due to the loss of their jobs.
“We are trying to close this gap. Said Cadoree. “They are in very precarious positions, but one thing that I, as the program coordinator, am trying to do is keep them level-headed and make sure they understand that we are there for us and we will all get through this together. “
The court usually meets weekly with judges and the Drugs Court team to give praise or sanctions to the accused, depending on how they are doing. As the courts restrict participation to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, hearings have been canceled. Even so, Cadoree said the drug court team is still closely monitoring customers despite the obstacles caused by the virus.
"The message to customers is that things are still going as usual," she said. "Show us that you can stay sober, even if the traditional structures are not there."
Defendants and many people in recovery rely on Northwestern Community Services, a nonprofit provider of drug treatment in the region's psychiatric services. Northwestern employs the Winchester Peer Resource Center Warm Line, a 24/7 crisis hotline. Warm Line coordinator Jennifer Borden said calls have doubled from 10 to 20 a week since the virus was declared a pandemic on March 11.
Northwest employees also communicate via phone calls and with the zoom video with customer conference app. Zoom was also used by customers at the Rivendell Recovery Center in White Post, Clarke County. The center currently has seven customers, according to the center's founder, Hughie McGee, who runs the center from home, along with eight employees who also live there.
Customers are usually driven to two meetings a day in the region. They also take regular road trips for activities like white water rafting or to take part in the annual national A.A. To meet.
"We believe that the addict suffers from an illness of isolation," said McGee, who has been sober since 1970 and focuses on the 12-step philosophy of the A.A. based on abstinence only. "We think it is very important that they form relationships outside Rivendell."
But with social distance – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a 6-foot distance between people to avoid infections to avoid – Bruchtell's mission to share joy and grief was complicated. In addition to the daily meetings, some annual alcohol and drug-free events were canceled. Meetings are mostly held via Zoom, although McGee said that gatherings in parks with fewer than 10 people who maintain social distance can take place when it gets warmer.
While he would prefer personal interaction, McGee said Zoom was helpful. He said that some online meetings affect up to 70 people. The meeting moderator mutes each participant at the beginning of the meeting. Then the participants, who can be seen on small screens, raise their hands and are muted and allowed to speak.
"It's actually pretty awesome and everyone is very happy that the technology is available," said McGee. "Because people in 12-tier grants would be in serious trouble without the ability to share."