Recovery Protections in the Wake of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
March 20, 2020
A few days ago, we published an article discussing the steps NorthStar Transitions is taking to protect our clients during the Coronavirus pandemic. As we pointed out at the time, we have not had any cases of COVID-19 at our recovery facilities. We are vigilantly taking measures to ensure that the number remains the same.While we are doing everything in our power to safeguard the well-being of our clients, everyone in the recovery community and beyond must take this public health crisis seriously. Some states have been hit harder than others, but that does not mean you don't have to take precautions if you live in a state with fewer cases.Compared to New York and Washington State, Colorado has relatively low numbers of confirmed cases. As of yesterday, March 18th, 2020, the Rocky Mountain State had 216 cases and two deaths, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. However, it's highly likely that the number of positive cases will rise, as will the death toll, unfortunately.Only 2,328 people have been tested throughout the state, and more are being screened for Coronavirus every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that this public health crisis will worsen.At NST, we hope that you are following CDC guidelines to protect yourself and your loved ones. Limiting contact with others is essential, as is ensuring that you sanitize your hands throughout the day regularly. Always avoid touching your face; the virus can be transmitted through the eyes, nose, throat, and ears. Again, you cannot be too careful, and if you are feeling ill, please seek assistance immediately.
How to Protect Your Recovery in Isolation
The pandemic poses problems for every American, but for those who rely on daily support from others, the situation is even more dire. Millions of Americans, including scores of former NST clients, actively rely on 12 Step group participation to protect their recovery.Being instructed to avoid in-person gatherings means isolation, and isolation isn't beneficial for those in recovery. At this time, you have to be more vigilant with safeguarding your program because you may not have access to meetings. Moreover, suddenly changing your routine can jeopardize your recovery.Please ensure that you keep in constant contact with your support network via phone or video conferencing. Inquire about how your homegroup intends to respond to the crisis. While many meeting houses have shuttered, some are still gathering, but they are taking certain precautions to prevent disease transmission.Shaking hands or any physical embrace should be avoided. Social distancing at meetings is a must, regardless if anyone is showing symptoms of the disease. In light of the tradition changes, many are opting to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings no longer. It's all right if that is what you have decided, but remember that you must continue prioritizing your recovery sans meetings.
Guidance from Alcoholics Anonymous
Naturally, countless members of the fellowship have reached out to the General Service Office (GSO) of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and AA World Services (AAWS) for guidance. Even though the 85-year old program hasn't dealt with a pandemic before, it's offering valuable information that can help local chapters and members alike.The GSO isn't in the business of offering health and safety advice, but the resource center is sharing what they have learned about protecting its AA members. From the repository of shared group experience, the GSO released a statement on March 16th to inform members on ways to protect their health and recovery.While the information offered is helpful for both groups and members, AA's resource center unequivocally states that each individual is responsible for their decisions regarding health and safety. With that out of the way, we thought it wise to share what the GSO has learned.Groups that are still holding meetings are changing their customs, including:
Prohibiting Hand Shaking and Handholding
Ensuring Meeting Hospitality Tables are Sanitary
Suspending Food Hospitality Altogether
Regarding groups that have chosen to suspend in-person meetings, the GSO shares contingency plans:
Creating contact lists and keeping in touch by phone, email or social media; meeting by phone or online...Many local AA entities have added information to their websites about how to change a meeting format from "in-person" to online. Some groups have shared that they are utilizing digital platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or a conference call. Some groups have also added a "virtual Seventh Tradition basket" to remain self-supporting and to keep up the services at the group and the AA entities that serve them.
Colorado Addiction Treatment
If you require assistance for an alcohol or substance use disorder, then we invite you to contact NST to learn more about our programs. We are happy to answer any questions you have regarding our health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19.Please do not let the current public health crisis dissuade you from seeking help. The NorthStar team can help you break the cycle of addiction and protect your health. You can call us around the clock at 303.558.6400.