Sober Living in a Pandemic

sober living in a pandemic

There’s an old saying that something wacky or stressful in a person’s life might drive a person to drink, like a visit from one’s in-laws or a loss by one’s favorite sports team. It’s meant as a joke, but for those of us in recovery, it’s not a laughing matter.

Since March, the country—and the world—has been dealing with a global pandemic that has created challenges for every industry, every nation and every person in every walk of life. Do a quick search on social media and you find plenty of people saying the lockdowns, shutdowns and quarantines make them want a drink. 

Now picture someone living a sober lifestyle, someone trying to stay on the straight and narrow—something that isn’t easy in the best of times.

Staying Connected

Gary Lamson is my business partner here at Providence Retreat, just outside of Portland, Maine, and he says this pandemic is the perfect storm for people in recovery. 

Sober living is grounded in fellowship with others in the sober community, and without the ability to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or other support group meetings, a lot of people in recovery are left to go it alone—but not the men residing at Providence Retreat or other sober living houses.

Gary told me he thinks people in sober living situations have a better sense of community. The guys in sober living right now have a connection to other people going through the same thing—and people trying to do it without sober living are struggling.

At Providence Retreat, residents are getting the same opportunities to connect with each other that they had before the pandemic, and Gary says he’s noticing that the community within the home is becoming closer and more tightly knit.

But that’s not everyone’s experience. 

Virtual Meetings Just Aren’t the Same

While there are support groups trying to get back to holding in-person meetings, for the most part AA, Narcotics Anonymous and others are hosting their meetings virtually using Zoom or some other platform. 
Everyone has surely seen an AA meeting depicted on TV or in a movie. There’s usually one group leader, but everyone is sitting in a circle, one addict next to another, all trying to maintain their sobriety. 

In these meetings, one person speaks to everyone else in the circle, sharing their thoughts and their story. Then the next person and the next. There’s a closeness about it because everyone is right there. You can see the emotions in the speaker’s face and hear it in their voice. You can see the pain and the struggle, and you can see the reactions of everyone else in the room.

None of that closeness exists when you look at a bunch of boxes on a screen during a Zoom meeting. It’s hard to replicate the feeling you get when someone shares their story, in person, to a group of similar individuals. 

Ways to Stay Involved

At Providence Retreat, Gary and I, along with the rest of the team, have done our best to keep the routine as normal as possible. As you may know, routines are very important for someone trying to maintain a sober lifestyle, but there’s nothing routine about a global pandemic. 

We’ve continued to hold as many meetings as we can, we’ve kept up with required safety protocols and CDC guidelines, and we’re doing all we can to keep our residents safe, healthy and sober. But it isn’t easy.

There are plenty of resources we use for our residents. And a lot of those resources can be used by someone fighting the battle to stay sober on their own. The Council for Recovery’s website has a lot of information, testimonials and a speaker series. Recovery Centers of America has a list of tips for maintaining sobriety and is another good source of information.

Regardless of the way of the world right now, we want everyone to know that there’s someone out there willing to help. Whether it’s a sober living house like Providence Retreat or Providence Place in Portland or a website or support group, you can get help.

As ever, if you think Providence Retreat might be a good fit for you, please give us a call at (207) 298-9130 or click here.

We’d be happy to answer your questions.

Justin Reid, Director of Operations at Providence Retreat