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Addiction Recovery Moves Online In Idaho During Coronavirus Pandemic

whiskey, alcohol, drink
Therese Tjernstrom
Flickr Creative Commons

Many Idahoans are adapting to their new, more secluded lives amid the coronavirus pandemic. Those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions are having to connect digitally to help stay sober.

Just about anywhere in the country, on any given day, people can find a sobriety meeting where they gather with others who are also on the path to recovery.

But those meetings, held at bowling alleys, churches and diners, rely heavily on face-to-face interactions, which are now temporarily forbidden under Gov. Brad Little’s (R) stay-at-home order.

Neil W., who we’re referring to only by his first name and last initial to protect his privacy, is the chair for southern Idaho’s Alcoholics Anonymous district. He had never participated in a virtual meeting until just recently.

“Well, it was kind of a ‘yikes’ moment,” he said.

It was audio only, which Neil said left something to be desired. He said he misses holding hands and hugging those with whom he attended meetings.

But once video conferences were set up, it wasn't like they were miles away from each other.

“I could physically see and embrace the laughter and visualize, if you will, the smiles and happiness of just knowing that everybody was ok.”

It’s not clear how many, if any, meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous are still being held in-person locally, Neil said. The group is mostly decentralized with individual meeting organizers having a lot of autonomy.

AA is holding about 130 meetings a week over the teleconferencing platform Zoom or by telephone. You can find a list of meetings in southern Idaho here.

A live phone hotline for those in crisis is also available here.

Narcotics Anonymous is hosting some of their meetings online as well. A schedule can be found here.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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