The COVID-19 pandemic has created a dire situation and an essential need to boost online recovery services. Isolation and lack of support can hinder recovery, but there is hope—addiction help online and other recovery forums are available.
Finding the right online recovery meetings can make or break your sobriety. To respond to this vulnerability, online sober recovery forums are steadily becoming the new norm. It’s important to find the right support system and stay (virtually) connected.
Online Community Support During Recovery
Essentially, we form and establish a community because we crave connection and support. In recovery from addiction and alcohol use disorder, both factors are crucial. Sadly, many people who struggle with addiction and substance use disorder (SUD) lack these foundational pillars, and in the current COVID-19 crisis, it’s an even bigger dilemma.
In fact, since the COVID-19 pandemic, “more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder,”1 as reported by the American Medical Association.
This shows that people lack the vital support needed to recover or to maintain sobriety. Luckily, a ton of self-help recovery groups, programs, and rehabs are at your disposal. Learning how to navigate the online recovery world and find the best online meetings for your situation requires individualized advocacy and support every step of the way.
- Group support
- Shared experience
- Peer-based learning
While access to in-person MHO meetings is declining, access to online recovery forums and online meetings is increasing.
SUD telemedicine is another digital recovery platform designed to provide more personalized support.2
If you or a loved one are stuck between a rock and a hard place and don’t know where to begin, addiction help online is available. In times that may feel confusing and uncertain, the one sure thing you can tend to is your health and well-being.
Know that you are not alone. Support meetings like online NA meetings or online AA meetings, recovery apps, substance abuse telemedicine, therapists, and mindfulness programs are all available online.
Online 12-Step Programs
Twelve-step fellowships like NA and AA are the most widely accessible recovery programs in the United States, with 12-step meetings becoming a cost-effective and popular approach to recovering from alcohol and other drug-related problems.3
Twelve-step programs are based on the foundational principles of AA—the largest community-based support group for alcohol-related issues—and are one of the most popular therapeutic tools in the United States.4
Similarly, NA uses the 12-steps to address drug addiction. The 12-step program of recovery uses a 3-pronged approach:3
- Unity (the fellowship, traditions, and principles of the program)
- Service (chairing meetings, commitments, sharing, sponsorship)
- Recovery (working the 12 steps under the guidance of a fellow program member)
The 12 steps are a set of suggested strategies grounded in spirituality, whereby you are encouraged to rely on a Higher Power of your belief, although no religious affiliations are involved.
The following is a list of some of the most common 12-step recovery programs:
- AA: Alcoholics Anonymous
- CA: Cocaine Anonymous
- NA: Narcotics Anonymous
- SLAA: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
- OA: Overeaters Anonymous
- NicA: Nicotine Anonymous
- DA: Debtors Anonymous
To respond to the pandemic, 12-step fellowships have launched online meetings. It’s now possible to attend your local online AA and online NA meetings without ever leaving your house. If quarantine is necessary, you still have access to your support system.
Times like this may call for a person in recovery to double down on meetings or find recovery forums that provide the structure and support that help to sustain sobriety. When researching online recovery programs, it’s important to find one that matches your clinical needs, values, and beliefs.
Benefits of Online Recovery Meetings
Online recovery meetings can help reduce the public health effects associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for those struggling with substance use disorder (SUD).2 In general, those struggling with SUD or addiction issues may have compromised immunity and/or poor overall health.1
Exposure to COVID-19 could cause even more damage to a person who is already vulnerable. Therefore, the need for online recovery forums and a support network is a necessity for those needing to maintain proper mental, emotional, and physical health via recovery.
Aside from AA meetings online or online NA meetings, other online recovery meetings, such as Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) meetings are also one of the most common MHO’s for addiction recovery.2
AA and NA meetings online have adapted online video platforms so individuals in recovery can see and connect with their local recovery friends; technology has created an enhanced system to deal with the restrictions of the global pandemic. Similar to in-person meetings, online recovery group interaction could help with coping, urges, self-agency, and motivation by way of new ideas, access to an active recovery network, and peer-driven learning.2
Online recovery support provides:
- Community engagement
- Crisis management
- Access to new information
- Daily structure
Recovery Apps, SUD telemedicine, therapists, and recovery coaches may provide a private, safer space for individuals needing more one-on-one attention. It’s not uncommon in recovery for someone to attend MHOs like AA online meetings or online NA meetings while also seeing a private practitioner.
Depending on the level of care needed, a multi-dimensional approach may be the safeguard needed to maintain one’s recovery. Additionally, family support groups like Al-Anon online are available to provide support to the loved ones of those struggling with addiction and SUD.
Alternative Approaches to Recovery
Stress is a well-known contributing factor to substance use and addiction5,6 and can be emotional, physiological, environmental, or a combination of these factors. For example, someone in recovery who may have lost a loved one due to the COVID-19 pandemic has suffered increased levels of stress, adding an additional layer onto their already vulnerable state. This situation could trigger someone to abuse substances to cope with the loss and subsequent emotional effects. In such cases, individuals may benefit from tools used to reduce stress naturally.
Sky Recovery Program
Yoga, meditation, and breath-based practices have been known to reduce stress hormones, decrease depression and significantly improve wellbeing both mentally and physically.6,7 One breathing practice, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY), has been empirically validated to curb addictive behaviors and SUD.6 SKY utilizes the innate ability of the breath to generate an automatic quieting of the mind, leading to a deep experience of meditation.
The SKY Recovery Program is a 10-hour online course that involves light physical stretches, interactive processes, and other elements, tailored for individuals dealing with addiction issues and SUD. SKY Recovery courses are taught on an ongoing basis, allowing you to sign up for a course that fits your schedule.
Yoga is considered a holistic intervention and induces dopamine homeostasis leading to long-term benefits of managing addictive behaviors.7 Individuals in recovery may find great benefit in utilizing such alternative approaches in conjunction with their traditional online recovery meetings.
Mindfulness-based practices are widely accessible in the digital age, with most yoga studios now offering online classes due to social distancing restrictions. Research shows participating in a range of online groups has been linked to “improvements in general well-being, and to positive psychological outcomes through providing participants with a sense of belonging and empowerment.”8
The Future of Recovery: The “New Normal”
While addiction is considered a chronic condition, the majority of individuals who experience addiction problems will overcome them and achieve long-term recovery8 which may have its own meaning, varying from person to person.9
Some researchers have suggested that psychosocial functioning and quality of life are more important goals for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) rather than strict abstinence from alcohol.10 The term “recovery” itself is poorly defined and a handful of definitions have found Quality of Life (QOL) to be a key recovery component.9 It is a personal path and luckily, you can choose from a variety of online resources to help you navigate it.
The recovery community has responded with urgency to the necessity of online recovery support and access to remote meetings. We may not know what the “new normal” will look like post-pandemic, but it’s possible to locate online recovery resources that will keep you strong and healthy while we wait out the future. Finding the right treatment program may seem overwhelming, but it’s not impossible.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance misuse or addiction, call 800-926-9037 Who Answers? today to speak to a support specialist who can guide you toward the best treatment options. Our specialists are here to assist you every step of the way and point you in the right direction. Find an online recovery forum suited for your specific needs. Recovery IS possible.
- American Medical Association. (2021). Issue brief: Reports of increase in opioid-and other related drug-related overdose and other concerns during COVID pandemic.
- Bergman, B. G., Kelly, J. F., Fava, M., & Eden Evins, A. (2021). Online recovery support meetings can help mitigate the public health consequences of COVID-19 for individuals with substance use disorder. Addictive Behaviors, 113, 106661.
- Laudet, A. Morgen, K. & White, W. (2006). The role of social supports, spirituality, religiousness, life meaning and affiliation with 12-step fellowships in quality of life satisfaction among individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug problems. Alcohol Treatment Quarterly, 24 (1–2): 33–73.
- Greenfield, B. L., & Tonigan, J. S. (2013). The general Alcoholics Anonymous tools of recovery: The adoption of 12-step practices and beliefs. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27 (3), 553–561.
- Sinha R. (2008). Chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1141, 105–130.
- Vedamurthachar, A., et al., Antidepressant efficacy and hormonal effects of Sudarshana Kriya Yoga (SKY) in alcohol dependent individuals. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2006. 94(1): p. 249-253.
- Kuppili, P. P., Parmar, A., Gupta, A., & Balhara, Y. (2018). Role of Yoga in Management of Substance-use Disorders: A Narrative Review. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice, 9(1), 117–122.
- David Best, Ana-Maria Bliuc, Muhammad Iqbal, Katie Upton & Steve Hodgkins (2018) Mapping social identity change in online networks of addiction recovery, Addiction Research & Theory, 26:3, 163-173.
- Subbaraman, M. S., & Witbrodt, J. (2014). Differences between abstinent and non-abstinent individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorders. Addictive Behaviors, 39, 1730–1735.
- Witkiewitz, K. (2013). “Success” following alcohol treatment: Moving beyond abstinence. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(s1), E9–E13.