This year, 2020, has been something, hasn’t it? The COVID-19 Pandemic has altered the way we live generally – how we shop, if we socialize, how our children go to school, how we work. It’s affected many people financially and even residentially. It’s also altered how we find support in our recovery from addiction. Where it used to be easy for most folks to find a 12-step meeting in their communities, go to a church group or Celebrate Recovery meeting, or visit a local Buddhist center for meditation instruction or a Refuge Recovery meeting, now finding a face-to-face meeting of any kind can be difficult and in some areas impossible. That doesn’t mean support isn’t out there. In fact, while COVID-19 has disrupted local recovery groups, it has also opened the doors to some great virtual recovery support offering connections with folks from all over the world. Let’s hope that even after the world turns again, and face-to-face meetings become the norm once more these groups maintain some virtual offerings. Here are 5 Recovery-based virtual communities that are worth looking into.
- Traditional 12-Step meetings, which include AA, NA, and others are mainstays in addiction recovery. In “normal” times, folks can usually find at least 1 meeting per day even in a small town, and in big cities, meetings run hourly, sometimes 24-hours-a-day. Twelve-Step meetings have been available online for some time, and their popularity (and necessity) increased in 2020. At 12step-online, you can access multiple online AA and NA meetings, AA Zoom meetings, Christian 12-step meetings, and open recovery chat rooms. There is a “Pass the Can” button if you’d like to donate, and if you need Proof of Attendance, that’s available too. This site also offers a nice set of links and resource downloads. It’s definitely worth a visit.
- Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist-based recovery organization founded on the idea that Buddhist principles and practices offer solid building blocks for addiction recovery. Refuge Recovery meetings may have been a bit more challenging to find for those outside metropolitan areas pre-COVID. The good news is that these meetings are available online. The Refuge Recovery calendar lists multiple meetings daily, and there are workshops and talks listed at the site as well. If you are drawn toward Buddhism, mindfulness, or want to learn how Buddhist principles and practices can support your recovery, check out this site.
- The Luckiest Club was founded by Laura McKowen, the author of the memoir, We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of the Sober Life. The opening statement on the homepage is “Sober is better together,” and the focus of The Luckiest Club is very clearly on the importance of community. The Luckiest Club is a paid membership-based program that offers access to a thriving community via its members-only forum and daily, facilitated recovery meetings offered via Zoom. Some membership levels also offer group coaching and masterclasses on various topics related to addiction and recovery. While you can access the We are the Luckiest Facebook group, the membership forums are on a separate platform.
The last 2 resources I’d like to tell you about started as (and continue to offer) podcasts* and grew into communities.
- Dopey Nation began as the Dopey Podcast, which grew out of a friendship between 2 guys who met in a treatment center. It wasn’t meant to be a recovery podcast, but that’s what it turned into. According to Dave, one of the creators,
“We didn’t want it to be a recovery podcast, but as soon as we did one episode where we’re telling these terrible drug stories, we figured that if we didn’t share that we were in recovery, we would just be glorifying drug use, so, it was very important to us that we created a backbone of the show about recovery.” whdh.com
Dopey has developed a large fan base, and they host a private, hidden Facebook group called Dopey Nation. Since the Pandemic began last spring, they have also offered daily Zoom group calls. The schedule is published regularly in the Facebook group.
- The Unruffled Podcast started when 2 women in recovery met and talked about how important creativity was to their recovery journeys. The podcast was born in 2017, and Sondra and Tammi have published a weekly podcast, usually interviewing another creative woman in recovery and always including their recovery toolkits, ever since. From the podcast grew a secret Facebook group for creative women in recovery. The group is unsearchable and set up to be a safe space. Access can only come from invitation. Back in April, when the realities of sheltering at home became crystal clear, a Sunday morning Zoom meeting was born. There was no real plan about how long those meetings would last, but they’re still going because everyone agreed they were necessary. Take a listen to an episode of the Unruffled Podcast to get in on the goodness.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we published a blog post about finding support. When that post was written, nobody guessed that the pandemic would go on so long. We expected to be back to normal, back to our regular routines, and back to our meetings and gatherings. 2020 has challenged our ideas on what it means to connect and pushed us to find new opportunities for community. It’s been rough – harder for some than others.
Maybe, just maybe, we can find a little good in it – like the opportunities to learn and grow with people we never would have met. As we close out this year, do yourself a favor. Reach out in a new way. Check out the communities of support that ARE available. You may find magic.