Locking out the coronavirus was particularly difficult for those recovering because the support meetings were canceled.
Musician Laurie Wright, 28, of Cheltenham, has been recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction for four months. Here, Laurie and her parents Carol and Richard share their experiences of locked out life.
The coronavirus has affected my life quite strongly because now the meetings are not in person.
In the 12-step program, you are encouraged to seek higher potency. Being an atheist, God doesn’t really wash with me, so I’m looking for higher power in human connectivity – the spiritual human connection that we get by sharing our stories with each other in person. Cuddles, eye contact, smiles.
We do the meetings on Zoom, but it’s not the same. Everyone’s microphone should be muted, you can’t hug, you can’t see everyone at the same time.
There is also a great thing in the 12-step program called service.
I have two duty stations a week where I make tea and greet people, which means I have to be there early. Service is an important part of early recovery because it forces you to a meeting because everyone depends on you.
With the lack of meetings, I do no service, which is an incentive to potentially miss meetings.
A few years ago, I decided that I no longer wanted to use drugs and I knew deep down that alcohol was also a problem. I always thought that if I could quit smoking, I could just take a few pints. But this has never been the case.
I struggled for another three years to make the sober, strange month. This, again, would convince me that I was fine because, in my mind, if I could stop for a month, I couldn’t be addicted.
This would legitimize the other 11 months of chaos.
In the end, it all got too much and it took a turn when I was kicked out of my house and my girlfriend left me, both on my birthday. Then I decided that I should get sober.
I didn’t think I needed a rehab and thought I could do it on my own. It did not work. I was lying a lot. I went north for a concert, I ended up going up there and I told everyone at home that I was sober.
I finally got sober when I had had enough and got what they call in the 12-step program “The Gift of Despair”. You just go, “I can’t do this alone.” It opens the door to being honest, open-minded and ready for real change.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help and advice is available here
I went to rehab for a month and it was amazing. I learned the 12 steps correctly and I got serious.
I was at Christmas – what had to happen. I knew what Christmas was, especially with all my friends and what is expected of me as a bearer of chaos. It would show people that I was serious when I went out.
But it’s not rehabilitation that will keep you sober, it’s rehabilitation that will get you out of the situation.
The meetings were my saving grace, forcing them to go every day. It’s not even a chore once you get in there, listening to other people’s stories.
I always said that it was like different chapters of the same story, hearing everyone’s struggle, because we all have the same obsessive-compulsive nature. For most addicts, dating is their savior.
Obviously, the meetings stopped because of the coronavirus and went online.
Although I am constantly on my phone, I do not do enough online meetings because it is not the same thing.
But by not meeting, your addict brain starts to convince you that you’re okay, which then leads to thoughts of “I can have a drink,” which can obviously lead to a relapse.
We have a WhatsApp group, which is a gratitude list. So, every morning and evening, everyone says what they are grateful for – like being sober, or a conversation you had with your parents, or a song you heard.
It’s really telling – everyone except a few people who are not supported has fallen.
Isolation is a huge part of it because we talk about meeting isolation as a negative thing. Now we are forced to isolate, you can see the natural progression. People lose intrigue.
I’m dreaming a lot anyway, but situations come to my mind that I’m on tour and I can just drink and everything will be fine.
And it would probably be for the first song, in fact probably the duration. I might get out of it. But no, wait, this is where the addict brain starts to take over. You convince yourself that it would be good, but it is not.
I have let these thoughts boil too long a few times. These situations arose in my mind where I thought I might be able to drink and take drugs again. Maybe it’s just smoke and mirrors?
But this is not the case. It has been much more difficult not to have meetings to talk about things like that.
There have been good things to lock.
Simple things like I cooked a lot, learned to use the kitchen with mom, which is good. We don’t argue as much now.
I write a lot of music and my tour has also been canceled, so I just started playing online every night and playing. I also released my EP. On the contrary, it made me more productive.
I have huge fears about the end of the lockout as it will be a very exciting time, especially as a musician, as people will come in large numbers to the concerts.
Yes, everyone drinking and taking drugs around me will be difficult – but the meetings will help.
Being able to see my sponsor at meetings and seeing my other friends recovering and meeting new ones will help.
The meetings will keep me clean.
Richard Wright, father
There was a real flash point between him and Carol because he would not accept his mother’s point of view during an argument.
He put his head in his hands and said, “I don’t understand where it comes from. I don’t see myself as an angry person, but I don’t have the opportunity to go to meetings or talk to people who have had similar problems to me. “
The meetings are definitely missing.
It was a good decision when he launched his live shows on Facebook and Instagram. He came out of those three hours with a lot of adrenaline going through him, which was really good because during the day he can be very static.
I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t a little worried about Laurie after the lockout ended, but I guess there were similar concerns after she left rehabilitation.
The first thing he did after rehab was to go down to the pub to meet his friends, which really worried us. He spent the evening on soft drinks and people were taking drugs in the toilet. He said it bothered him a bit, but he noticed.
Carol Wright, mother
After the meetings ended, he told me that he was starting to doubt himself and that he wasn’t sure he could do it, but it only lasted a few days and it was good that ‘he can tell me. Since then, he has been brilliant.
He is completely absorbed by his music. But the result is that he has always been on his phone to watch what people are thinking and I think that is a concern.
I think it would be better if he did the online meetings and communicated with his sponsor rather than spending time looking at what people he didn’t even know think.
A spokesperson for Alcoholics Anonymous said online meetings or phone calls can be arranged with friends or sponsors to help people stay sober during self-isolation.
“Many members continue the AA spirit of service, telephone and email answering and Chat Now service continue to speak to people in search of recovery and direct them to meetings,” said the spokesperson. .
Since the beginning of March, calls to the AA helpline have increased by 22% and the use of its chat service has increased by almost a third.
Interviews with George Wright, Laurie’s brother
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk or call 0800 9177 650. Help and advice is also available. available here