Social distancing is a popular term right now. The internet, newspapers and television alike repeat it continuously. With Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19 or Novel Coronavirus, hitting American shores recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has made a variety of recommendations, including keeping a bit of space between ourselves and others. Unfortunately, social distancing can leave us feeling isolated–and for someone in recovery, that’s not good.
As the LA Times reported in an article earlier this month, it is possible to practice social distancing and also stay connected to the recovery community. The article referenced a 12-step meeting in which chips were handed out with antibacterial wipes, the number of snacks was reduced, and hugs were replaced with bowing.
One group member remarked that he especially worries about members of the recovery community who are in advanced age or who are new to recovery: “These meetings are like free therapy. You don’t want to help spread this contagion with a high mortality rate, but at the same time, it’s like your mental and emotional health is on the line.”
What Does Social Distancing Really Mean?
Social distancing is reducing the close physical interactions between large groups of people to help keep disease from spreading. Social distancing does not have to mean that you spend all of your time alone. In this modern age, there is no reason why we cannot utilize everything in our grasp to balance the need for disease control against the human need for companionship.
“We’re taught resilience,” a woman named Grace told the LA Times. “We’re taught that there is a way through and that we figure it out one day at a time, step by step.” People in recovery do tend to be creative, resourceful folks, so it’s not surprising that the recovery community already has a number of workarounds for issues like the Coronavirus:
- Old School – There’s no reason why you can’t swap phone numbers with other people in the recovery community so that you can support each other via calls or texts.
- Email – If you would like to swap online resources, email can be a helpful tool.
- Pick a Platform – Social media now comes in many different varieties, and you might find one that is perfect for you and your recovery buddies to use.
- Online Meetings – AA, NA, SMART Recovery and other programs have online options for meeting participation.
- One-on-One Interactions – If you and your sponsor are both feeling well and taking precautions for avoiding large groups, you can meet in person. To be safest, it’s best to keep a minimum space of six feet between individuals.
- There’s an app for that – Face Time, Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and similar apps can allow you to talk to your support system without risking anyone’s wellbeing.
- Other online resources – Recovery-related podcasts, books, TedTalks, Youtube videos and printable documents are just a few of the free online tools. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has guidelines for addressing your mental health during an infectious disease outbreak, which include:
- A description of the range of normal emotional reactions people have to events like the Covid-19 outbreak.
- A glossary of terms related to infectious disease management.
- Tips for managing the various feelings a person might have while the country is addressing such a situation.
- Resources for getting accurate information and emotional support.
Recovery is different for each individual, so try a few of these options to see what makes the most sense for you and your situation. If you are struggling to determine how to continue your recovery journey during these times of uncertainty, Valley Recovery Center has caring professionals available to help.