Coronavirus is special challenge for those recovering from substance abuse

It’s essential that people in recovery continue to connect even in the absence of regular in-person community meetings.

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One of 500 beds in Hall C Unit 1 of the COVID-19 alternate site is seen at McCormick Place in Chicago on Friday. The “alternative care facility” is designed to relieve pressure on city hospitals from rapidly mounting coronavirus cases.

AP Photos

The coronavirus poses additional struggles for people like me, who are in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, also known as substance use disorders. Many of us in recovery depend upon regularly attending Twelve Step or other peer-support meetings, yet many of those gatherings already have been or will be canceled in an effort to thwart the spread of COVID-19.

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Addiction is an illness of isolation and the antidote is community. A recent study from a Stanford School of Medicine researcher and his colleagues affirmed the value of Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step meetings, noting fellowship is the most effective way to maintain sobriety.

So what happens when people cannot attend meetings in person? Some of us get “restless, irritable and discontent,” to quote recovery literature. Amid the unknowns of the current crisis, such feelings are exacerbated, and many crave relief from the anxiety.

There are many online resources for people who no longer can or do not want to attend recovery meetings in person. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer online meetings. Podcasts and blogs offer valuable information. Even recovery-specific movies can provide helpful inspiration.

It has been amazing to see the recovery community step up and establish a bevy of online recovery meetings to help people across the nation who have been told to isolate but who need to connect with each other. At our organization, we have almost 30 meetings a week at our peer-run online community TheDailyPledge.org. We have also made available for free four of our most popular mobile recovery apps and accelerated the launch of RecoveryGo, a major expansion of our virtual recovery services.

It’s essential that people in recovery continue to connect even in the absence of regular in-person community meetings. Physical distancing – yes. Social distancing – no. Not for us. Isolation can breed feelings of anxiety, and we have enough of that already. Even a simple phone call or text to a peer can help. If you have friends or family members in recovery, consider reaching out to them to let them know none of us is alone. We are in this together.

Jeremiah Gardner
Director of communications and public affairs
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Protect endangered species

I am writing in support of the Endangered Species Act, and in opposition to efforts by Congress to undermine this landmark wildlife conservation law.

The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for fish, plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction. Since President Richard Nixon signed the act into law in 1973, hundreds of species have been saved from disappearing forever, including the American bald eagle, the peregrine falcon and the American alligator, and many more are on their way to recovery.

But now some members of Congress are trying to weaken the Endangered Species Act to benefit developers and the oil and gas industry.

We have a responsibility to future generations to be good stewards and protect imperiled wildlife and the special places they call home. Our senators must oppose efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Mary Trager, Near North Side

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