Google, Facebook and Twitter support drug recovery during pandemic

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Google, Facebook and Twitter have partnered with the Nonprofit Center for Safe Internet Pharmacy (CSIP) to launch Tech Together (TechTogether.co), an online platform to provide support to people with substance addiction. The site is a collection of resources to help those who suffer from substance use disorders or who are struggling with addiction and associated stigma.

Many of these people lost their 12-step meetings and other in-person resources during social distancing from coronaviruses. Tim Ryan, star of the 2017 A&E documentary “Dope Man” and advocate for the re-establishment of the Rehab.com treatment resource, said the resulting isolation from on-site shelter orders had created conditions for addiction.

“Covid-19 has cultivated an environment that lacks responsibility and visibility, which allows people to abuse drugs and alcohol when they are isolated,” said Ryan.

Since Alcoholics Anonymous alone has more than 66,345 groups in the United States, totaling more than 1,361,800 members, closing most groups will leave a large number of recovering people looking for resources. Before Covid-19, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and Harvard, showed that 2.5 million American adults were already using online technology to aid in their recovery, and report that interventions incorporating online technology have leads to additional recovery success.

This is the urgent time to help those suffering from drug addiction. The data already confirms this. According to a study by Earnest Research published in the New York Times, alcohol sales are up 25% nationally. Meanwhile, officials from Florida, Ohio and New York have all reported increases in overdose emergency calls and overdose deaths since March.

“We know that Americans consume more alcohol alone,” said Marjorie Clifton, executive director of CSIP. “Additional stress and a lack of support community are dire for people in recovery. “

By partnering with Facebook, Google and Twitter for Tech Together, the nonprofit CSIP is now part of a group that provides a unique online destination for those who suffer from addiction.

Addiction Recovery Resources

“This platform provides a single location for families or individuals looking for the support or resources they need at any stage of addiction disorder,” said Clifton. “This site is in partnership with many national not-for-profit organizations involved in recovery efforts and includes a collection of tools and technology resources provided by Twitter, Google and Facebook – to help share information and put tools and communities available to those seeking support. “

Clifton said the site will be promoted on Twitter, Facebook and Google, and once users find it through these services, they will discover a wealth of resources to help them or their loved ones find treatment options.

“There are screening tools from the National Institute on Drug Abuse as part of the National Institutes of Health and tracking tools from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,” she said. “The Twitter community has also partnered with Unity Recovery, Reconnect, Portland Alano Club and SOS Recovery Association to provide community support and recovery meetings. “

We know that Americans consume more alcohol alone. Additional stress and a lack of community support are disastrous for people in recovery.

Marjorie Clifton

Executive Director of CSIP

Each company makes its unique contribution to Tech Together. Twitter has hashtags such as #RecoveryMovement, #OpenRecovery and #RecoveryWorks so that those with addictions can participate in discussions with others in similar situations.

“Twitter is a powerful tool for connecting people in recovery to online resources and to each other, especially during this pandemic,” said Lauren Culbertson, senior public policy officer for Twitter. “It also facilitates, in real time, a global public conversation around this vital subject. “

Facebook, meanwhile, offers support in the event of a crisis via its Messenger tool and via Facebook Live sessions. It also hosts Facebook groups for people with substance use disorders. Liza Heyman, Facebook’s political program manager, said Facebook Messenger is used to share resources with those who need it, such as the Center on Addiction.

“The Center for Addiction uses Facebook Messenger as one of its primary methods of receiving messages from people seeking support,” said Heyman. “They have trained social workers who interact with people live via Messenger in the same way as they take incoming messages by text and telephone. “

Facebook said that the use of the Messenger platform had increased by more than 50% between February and March in the countries most affected by the virus.

As for Google, CNBC spoke to an employee by the name of Shawna who is recovering and requested that his last name be omitted to preserve his anonymity. She said Tech Together uses Google’s relationships with nonprofits such as Transforming Youth Recovery, Young People in Recovery, and Center on Addiction to aggregate recovery meeting places, providing clear paths for processing. .

“There are people recovering during this time, and it is inspiring,” she said. “Any barrier removed from people seeking help is a good thing. “

Technological tools in times of crisis

It remains to be seen whether online meetings can provide the same level of support as face-to-face meetings. Anna David, the author of the Party Girl Addiction Brief and publisher of Launch Pad Publishing in Los Angeles, has been recovering from cocaine, alcohol and pills for almost 20 years. She said that for her, the online meetings were, in some ways, more effective than the ones she always attended in person.

“What has happened to me personally is that my willingness, as they say, to” work on a program “has grown exponentially,” she said. “When I was new to recovery, I was ready to go to meetings across town where you had to be an hour early to get a seat. Over the years, that will has diminished, and I have started to do what was practical. Well, now I can connect to these meetings, without fighting the LA traffic and hearing some of the brightest speakers I have heard in 20 years. “

She added that while she would be as happy as anyone about the lifting of on-site accommodation, she did not necessarily see the need to end the online meetings.

“I know it sounds crazy, but I’m already a little nostalgic for the Zoom meetings,” she said. “I know they will disappear when life returns to normal, and the experience of connecting with other sober people in this strangely intimate way has been something so special. “

At the moment, many who want help seem to be able to find it through Tech Together and other online resources. Recovery lawyer Tim Ryan of Rehab.com said that in the six weeks between early March and late April 2020, Rehab.com had seen a 393% increase in treatment seekers and a 285% increase in claimants , during the same period in 2019. He also added that resources are available for those who may have never sought treatment before, but who now suspect they may need it. He described some behaviors to look for in those who may need treatment.

“If you miss appointments or work engagements due to frequent and debilitating hangovers, have prolonged feelings of not wanting to connect with others, even virtually, use substances as your primary means of escape , spend a large part of your financial reserves on drugs and alcohol, even if you have suffered an economic loss, or if you feel that you need drugs or alcohol to feel “normal” – these are all signs that you have a problem. ”

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