Recovering addict misses the hugs he gets in 12-step meetings

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – With social distancing measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the  things recovering addict Thomas Russell misses the most are the hugs he receives in 12-step meetings.

Like many in recovery, Russell is using the internet to connect with others. There are multiple programs that people can use to talk to each other face to face such as Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. But when recovering addicts meet in person, they hug each other.

“We hug because somebody is on a difficult time in their life and they get clean it’s probably been a long time since they have had human to human interaction, and so we talk about it in our Zoom meetings where it’s like, ‘we miss the hug most of all,’” said Russell.

Many meetings are now being hosted on a Zoom.

“Zoom meetings are great and we are so grateful for them but there is not that intimate relationship that we normally have,” said Russell.

Due to social distancing, COVID-19 is affecting many recovering addicts.

But local recovery centers are working to set up virtual one-on-one sessions and group meetings using social distancing standards.

Addicts in recovery often depend on seeing one another in 12-step meetings or their sponsors in person to stay sober.

In Bowling Green, the Journey Pure treatment center has started Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings via video chatrooms.

Journey Pure marketing manager for Kentucky, Jerry Lucas, says the facility is taking part in telemedicine to provide support to those in outpatient recovery.

Journey Pure representatives encourage recovering addicts to keep in contact remotely with one another, their sponsors and families during this time of isolation in order to remain grounded and focused on the journey of recovery.

“Stress is always there, and it is always what we make of it anyway. It does add to more things but if you can keep your mind up and think of what you can do every morning when you wake up, make a plan, have structure with that. You can come up with a plan to combat stress, to combat all these things,” said Lucas.