From the Archives, #35157

PUTNEY — A lot has been discussed about the effects of the Covid pandemic on our society, but one story I haven't heard talked about much is the effect it has had on our local 12-step recovery community.

A major part of the 12-step recovery process is the attendance at meetings with others in recovery. There, issues and problems relating to alcoholism and addiction are discussed and members help one another to stave off the often-fatal obsession with substance abuse.

Using the steps and support of other members, they become useful, self-respecting members of the community - in short, the people they want to be.

In the past several decades, the Brattleboro area has developed a very vibrant recovery community, with many meetings, and many kinds of meetings, every day and at multiple times, most of which were pretty well attended.

Often at some meetings, people would hang around after to drink coffee and chat, or move in groups to local bakeries or coffee shops and eateries to talk.

When Covid hit, a lot had to change.

Meeting places were shut down, and social distancing made business as usual impossible. For a community that's based on human interaction, this was extremely problematic.

Enter Zoom. Many groups quickly learned how to make use of it, and many people took advantage of the opportunity to attend meetings that were geographically far away! Things seemed to be moving ahead - not ideally, but at least the connections were holding up.

But as Covid time has just gone on and on, I have noticed fewer and fewer people at meetings. And even now that many meetings have opened up to hybrid - in-person-masked and by Zoom - attendance is a fraction of what it used to be.

Whether people have gone back to using or simply decided they don't need the community or meetings anymore, I won't hazard a guess. Probably a bit of both.

I heard a story on the radio about how deaths from overdose were up since Covid, and I know that deaths from alcoholism are often disguised as liver or heart failure, or automobile or other accidents. So who knows how many other deaths have occurred?

A major part of the recovery process is helping others to recover as well. We who have benefited from this process owe it to those who helped us to help the next person in need.

I would urge all those who have been staying away for whatever reason to please come back. Without you to share your experience, strength, and hope, for many there will be no hope at all!

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