Should You Attend Therapy and Meetings Virtually After COVID-19?

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The support networks that are in place to help an individual maintain his or her sobriety after attending a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program are imperative to one’s continued success. Substance abuse and addiction treatment, albeit with additional cleanliness and safety precautions, has remained accessible and available from the emergence of COVID-19, and will continue as such until the pandemic subsides. While the format of support group meetings may have changed as a result of COVID-19, the content of the meetings remains the same. Furthermore, the treatment process and steps an individual must take to recover from addiction have not changed. 

The format for substance abuse support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) since the emergence of COVID-19, has shifted significantly. As a means to assure its member’s safety and comply with the social distancing precautions, these types of support groups stopped holding in person meetings, and shifted to facilitating virtual meetings instead. The virtual group meeting settings enable individuals to participate in substance abuse and addiction support group meetings while also reducing the spread of the virus by limiting physical exposures to others.  

As the various stay at home orders across the country and strict social distancing measures implemented by local and federal governments are beginning to cautiously lift, individuals must remain diligent in continuing to slow the spread of the virus. It is, therefore, impossible to predict how long certain organizations will continue to conduct and offer their services virtually. Many organizations that facilitate substance abuse and/ or addiction support group meetings have adjusted their meeting structures to enable attending via a virtual format. Whether a support group meeting is held on Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, telephone, and/ or e-mail, the purpose of this restructure is to continue to extend wide ranging accessibility to anyone that wishes to attend. 

Closely following one’s recovery aftercare plan is essential, especially during these unprecedented times. As such, although it may feel disconcerting to participate in a therapy session in a virtual setting, the mental health support delivered during a virtual session is no less beneficial than those conducted in person. Any reputable mental health clinician is obligated to uphold the same confidentiality agreements for virtually conducted sessions as are upheld for in-person sessions. Many mental health organizations require their clinicians and mental health professionals to utilize a secure network to communicate as well as conduct any virtual services via the appropriate portal (i.e. telehealth). This is to ensure the information shared during the sessions remains private. If regular or sporadic therapy sessions are part of an individual’s aftercare plan, he or she should continue with his or her services virtually, for as long as both the clinician and client deem necessary.  

Flexibility amidst this pandemic can be incredibly challenging, as individuals lean heavily on areas of their lives that remain constant and comforting, especially for an individual in recovery for substance abuse and/ or addiction. For individuals that had regularly attended in-person AA or NA meeting prior to COVID-19, continuing to do so (even in a virtual setting) may help to bring comfort and maintain consistency in an individual’s routine. The new format for holding virtual support group meetings may enable even more individuals to participate, as having immediate access at one’s fingertips without being geographically constrained can open up a myriad of possibilities. Being a part of a community is important, especially for an individual in recovery for substance abuse and/ or addiction. Finding ways to remain active in the recovery community while following social distancing guidelines is crucial to one’s continued sobriety. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777.

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