The coronavirus has caused an unusual set of issues for Dickson County residents trying to overcome addictions.
Some of the hurdles to recovery during the pandemic include suspension of 12-step meetings and counseling services because of restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people and the stay-at-home orders; beer and liquor can be delivered to one’s home; and food addicts find themselves home all day with full refrigerators.
Stress may also increase for those attempting to achieve sobriety while in quarantine at home if they have also faced losing their jobs or other financial hardship. All of those factors can lead to a relapse.
Many organizations such Alcoholics Anonymous have started offering meetings on video conferencing platforms, but that is not always an option, especially for those who’ve just gotten out of rehab.
Jamie Hall, a lifelong resident of Dickson County, is the ministry leader of the Celebrate Recovery at Compassion Church in Dickson. Celebrate Recovery is a faith-based, 12-step program for addiction recovery.
“You’ve got people that don’t have a lot,” Hall said. “You’re just getting out of treatment, and I know when I first got out of treatment, I didn’t have anything. So, a computer, a phone, I didn’t have all that. For someone just getting out of treatment, it’s hard.
“I’ve had some people reach out to me and don’t even understand how to get online to even do the Zoom. That is an issue, especially not having the meetings, just individually going in and meeting and sitting down and having that unity, that face-to-face with somebody. I can help them a whole lot more face-to-face than on a computer screen.”
Shawn Baker is the co-owner, with his wife, of Freeman Recovery Center in Dickson. The center residential detoxification for alcohol and substance abuse disorder.
“There’s been a lot of hardship as far as employment goes, with a lot of companies having to shut down or lay off,” Baker said. “There’s been a lot of overdoses and suicides, and with the loss of employment and reduced access to different recovery programs that are normally available to the general public because of the shutdown, it’s been a challenge.
“Access to alcohol has increased and access to treatment has decreased.”
Kimberly Hunter, a resident of Dickson County since 1992, said she has been sober for the last seven years. She said she struggled with addiction since her teens and now participates in local recovery groups like AA and The Dickson Group.
“The challenge now is the people that are struggling can just have alcohol delivered to your home. It’s just as easy now to get alcohol as is picking up the phone to have somebody talk you out of it,” she said. “Some folks just don’t have the tools yet, working the steps in the program, it’s hard to be able to understand to be able to help yourself when you can’t go to the meetings and hear somebody else tell you what it was like for them and how they got through it.”
Leaders in the recovery movement often point to the relationship between addiction and isolation, the latter which has become a more prevalent issue due to Tennessee’s stay-at-home order.
“Being isolated and alone in our own thoughts is very dangerous for an addict or an alcoholic,” Hunter said. “We isolate a lot, anyways, when we’re in active addiction. We would say, ‘That’s when our demons come out. Our demons like to talk to us and tell us to do things.’ We hear that a lot, and that’s true, because you’re sitting at home, you have no contact with anybody, and who’s to stop you from using?”
Working the recovery in isolation is more difficult, but still doable.
“Definitely get tuned in with at least one to two people that they can talk to on a daily basis. Make yourself a gratitude list every day. Call other people in recovery and ask for simple suggestions from others that’s gone before you,” Hall said.