How Has 12 Step Recovery Helped You Prepare for the Coronavirus Pandemic?

In recovery we remember the isolation our addiction brought us to, so we knew what isolation meant and how it felt. In 2020, that’s something which has been new for a lot of people – especially family members of those with addiction – they didn’t understand what it meant when we talked about those feelings of isolation. Now they’re really realising what that is and what that does to you.

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Most important of these is Step 1. 

Step 1 – Admitted we were powerless and our lives were unmanageable

In terms of global issues that are facing us, Step 1 helps us be able to recognise the unmanageability that’s happening on a global scale, and that we are individually powerless over the virus.

When you’re in healthy recovery, Step 1 is about realising that life can be unmanageable and there are things that we are powerless over and so, in terms of addiction recovery, recognising how addiction has made your life unmanageable, and that you’re powerless over your addiction. 

“We can’t control the pandemic, and we have to kind of accept that this is where we’re at. And if you’re in healthy recovery you have a very good grounding in Step 1, so being able to acknowledge that this is chaotic and unmanageable at times, that we can accept “this is where we are” and we can begin to work with things as they are for us each day.”

Step 2 – Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Power: Self-awareness

The term ”isolation’ has negative connotations, but it is possible to use time away from other people as a chance for increasing self-awareness. Learn to sit with yourself and learning to take advantage of these moments for self-growth and self-exploration.

“Self-awareness is a key cornerstone to getting well and so figuring out how you are feeling and how you are responding is important.”

Recovery and the 12 Steps teach us how to connect with other people and how to ask for help when we need it.

8 key tips for self-awareness during lockdown:

  • Talk about what’s on your mind,
  • Talk about how you are feeling,
  • Think about what is important to you and what you value,
  • Remember One Day at a Time,
  • Think about your loved ones who are in lockdown or afraid to leave the house and connect with them to let them know you care,
  • Keep connected to your recovery community via whatsapp and social media,
  • Remember you have asked for help before and you can do it again if you need to – no one will judge you! 

One Day at a Time

Focus on the present. Practise Mindfulness to keep you in the here and now. Don’t worry about what is going on in the outside world, focus on yourself and your self-exploration. You cannot change the past, don’t dwell on it; and you cannot know what is round the corner, don’t be anxious about it; but in the here and now you can find peace and contentment.

Using technology to bring us together

We forget that we’re social creatures by nature – that’s part of being human – and technology for so long had become a barrier for that. With this we’re learning to bridge that gap and realise that actually we don’t have to use technology to isolate ourselves, we’re trying to see how we can turn that around. 

We all need to keep reaching out to people, keep talking and keep sharing. There are people who will understand.

Therapy sessions and medical consultations have moved online. The newly launched Castle Telehealth programme has allowed people to connect with our therapists online, providing therapy in their own home and mitigating feelings of anxiety and isolation which can lead to increased drinking during lockdown. 

“Being able to connect to the online programme and take active part in sessions, groups and workshop allowed me to feel less isolated during lockdown.” – A Castle Telehealth patient

How has the recovery community responded to the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The recovery community did an amazing job of when we weren’t able to do face-to-face meetings any more. Groups began reaching out to each other, they began doing larger platforms to continue to hold their meetings, so that they were still coming together on a regular basis to support each other. 

Smaller groups of friends in recovery made smaller WhatsApp and Zoom groups, again to maintain that recovery and that reaching out to people in a time of need and to get that support that need.

The Castle Craig aftercare group has gone digital, so people that have been in treatment here that were physically attending our aftercare programme here at the Castle have gone digital, and it’s actually allowed it to expand so that some of the folks who weren’t in the area and able to get to the meetings on campus now actually get to participate and connect with peers that they were in treatment with.

I’ve done the family workshop, which is typically in person, I did that digitally this past month, which was an interesting format but still successful and helpful and so it is part of considering in what I do. Nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting – as we all know – there’s an energy that you get from being in a room with other people, but at the same time there’s a lot to be gained from still feeling that connection and hearing each other’s stories and sharing that connection.

Interview with Teri Lyn Fairnie, MSc, Lead Family Therapist at Castle Craig.



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