Twelve-step programs are the cornerstone of balanced mental health for many struggling with alcohol use. When you can’t gather, how can you coalesce among peers?
By Barrett White
Nobody should struggle alone. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are thought to be as bad as – if not worse than, in some cases – withdrawals from heavy drug use. When attempting to overcome an addiction, this can make the battle feel more like war. This is why for many, access to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program can be the difference between a steady path forward and a relapse.
However, with a pandemic gripping the planet and gatherings not permitted in any public space, how is one to navigate this world while we sit on hold?
In person, part of the ritual is the community itself. Eye contact, holding hands as you recite the Serenity Prayer, perhaps a few hugs or pats on the back as you exit. Through Zoom, where many AA meetings are currently taking place, the greetings and thank-yous are muted as one person at a time speaks on the virtual platform. In this present reality, AA groups across the country are embracing the tools available to them, seeing thousands of members a week through multiple daily meetings.
Lambda Center Houston, an AA clubhouse geared toward the LGBTQ+ community, is hosting four meetings daily, though group themes may be for any number of anonymous meetings, from alcohol to substance use, to al-anon (a group for family and friends of alcoholics and substance users).
The city-wide Alcoholics Anonymous site features many other AA meetings across Houston as well. Though many are temporarily suspended, the options for virtual meetings are available for select few as you navigate down the list. Additionally, the 24/7 hotline is still up and running, at (713) 686-6300.
As noted in another Legacy blog, some people, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, have religion-of-origin traumas which can make a higher power-based program a really loaded issue for many. This is because for someone who has been rejected by their religion of origin, it can turn the premise of a higher power into a big ask for someone who is newly sober, or even considering it.
This is why Legacy may also refer patients to SMART Recovery, a small group setting in which “participants find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives guided by [SMART’s] science-based and sensible 4-Point Program.”
To join is free and easy – all meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous, the Lambda Center, and SMART Recovery are open to the public. All of these communities welcome new members with open arms and without judgement; simply select the meeting you would like to participate in and navigate to the Zoom call-in information.
If you are currently struggling with alcohol use, please consult your Legacy physician for a referral to one of our social workers, or consider virtually joining a program near you.