The coronavirus posed special challenges for those in Davidson County.
When the statewide shelter-in-place order went into effect, many people lost their jobs, and face-to-face 12-step meetings – often a major part of addiction recovery – were suspended. Though the statewide order expired April 30 and the Nashville safer-at-home order was extended until May 8, life remains slow to get back to normal.
Churches in Davidson County, often the meeting places for 12-step groups, are cautious about opening again. Stuck at home, financial worries from losing one’s job and added challenges such as the ability to get alcohol delivered to one’s home are a recipe for relapse for many.
Khamaria Wright is a family counselor who has worked in addictions counseling and rehabilitation facilities for the last five or six years.
“One of the things I’ve seen as a struggle is the lack of resources, one of those being sober living or halfway houses, those not being as available, which means they have to go back to their home environment, which causes isolation and boredom, which are the two biggest triggers in relapse,” Wright said.
“Ease of getting alcohol delivered now is definitely a problem. I know also, talking to a lot of recent patients, one of the things that also gets tricky is that, when you’re not able to find work, you find other ways to make quick money, and so sometimes it’s easier to start selling drugs as an easy way to make income.
“Even things like food addictions, you have things like Instacart. So, instead of having to go into a grocery store and try to shop, you would just get things like Uber Eats or Instacart, and they will shop for you and bring it to your door.”
Carolyn Leedy is the training coach of the Celebrate Recovery at Rolling Hills Community Church’s Nashville campus. According to its website, “Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind.”
“The challenge is for people that are in recovery for drugs and alcohol is when they are alone at home, that’s the worst place for an addict or an alcoholic to be, alone at home in their own head,” Leedy said. “It’s like you’re alone with your own demons, and so that in itself is a really hard thing to overcome, because usually when someone has gone into recovery, what we tell them is when you’re alone at home and you’re starting to feel that urge to drink or to use, that’s when we tell them to go out and go to a meeting, or you can make that phone call, or you can go to see somebody. During this time, it really restricts what you are able to do.
“Addicts tend to second guess themselves, and they will say to themselves, for example, ‘I’m an addict, so I could drink a drink or two, and just be fine, and I can’t go out to get any, so I think it’s not going to hurt me to have a couple of drinks,’ and that’s where their line of thinking is going, and that’s one of the biggest things I’m seeing with folks I’m talking with.
“It’s the loneliness, and with that loneliness, it’s the mind games that you play with yourself. It’s the things that you tell yourself that are not necessarily true. I can get them to call me or call somebody when they start that process, then we can end that and think, ‘OK, this isn’t true, and this isn’t you, this is just your mind playing games with you,’ and that makes a difference.”
Wright said, “Looking at things like isolation and boredom, a big part of recovery is community, being able to talk with others, being able to heal with others, and so when you’re isolating yourself, becoming bored, you have a lot more time to internalize your thoughts and feelings. Even before a physical relapse happens, you go through a mental relapse first, and that’s usually in those areas or those aspects of isolation and boredom, that’s usually where that happens.”
Despite the difficulties recovering addicts in Nashville face currently, there are still tools available for working one’s recovery.
“Some of the groups are [meeting] online,” Leedy said. “I know AA’s doing meetings online. Call someone. I know with Celebrate Recovery, there is a contact number of someone on every list on their [website]. You can call someone, and they are usually more than willing to talk to you.”
Wright said, ”The only solution to addiction is abstinence. It’s not just even simply saying ‘no’ to drugs and alcohol, but more so being able to say, ‘What can I do to heal?’ and, ‘What can I do to stay abstinent one day at a time?’
“If you’re doing any kind of inpatient or outpatient treatment [for addiction], really follow the continuing care recommendations if possible. Read literature, whether it’s the Alcoholics’ Anonymous Big Book. There’s a lot of different daily devotionals you can read. They can easily do a Google search for ‘AA and NA meetings over the phone,’ [and with those telephone meetings] you can simply dial into a meeting and listen; you don’t even have to talk. Another thing you can do with your sponsor, is work through your 12-step work. Reach out more to your sponsor and your support team.”
For more information about Wright and her counseling services, contact her at email@example.com. For more information about Celebrate Recovery at Rolling Hills Community Church's Nashville campus, email Leedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.