Tech together is a new platform online addiction recovery resources, and will soon be promoted by major social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook and Google.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are forced to change the way individuals interact with one another. While the act social distancing has helped to decrease the total number of COVID-19 cases, there are many people who deal with substance abuse and recovery who are presented with added barriers and complications with pursuing a life free from addiction. Within the addiction recovery community, those who have relied heavily on in-person social support are now at an increased risk for relapsing due to the isolation from social distancing.
Tim Ryan, a well-renowned addiction recovery advocate, notes how the implementation of social distancing practices have caused many to lose regular in-person support from 12-step meetings and other social resources. This new isolation now presents a more dangerous environment; those who are quarantined at home are at an immense risk for relapsing.
“Covid-19 has cultivated an environment that lacks accountability and visibility, which allows people to engage in drug and alcohol abuse while in isolation,” Ryan said.
New data and statistics already supports numerous hypotheses that he rates of addiction and relapses are increasing at a substantial rate. According to reports from the New York Times, sales of alcoholic beverages have increased by 25% nationwide. In addition, authorities in the states of New York, Ohio and Florida are also reporting increased levels of calls to emergency services and deaths from overdoses since the shelter-in-place was mandated in March.
The Need for more Addiction Recovery Resources
Marjorie Clifton, the Executive director of a non-profit organization called the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (or CSIP) has made several statements regarding the strain and stressors for at-risk individuals during this time.
“We know Americans are consuming more alcohol alone,” Clifton says. “Additional stress and a lack of support community is disastrous for people in recovery.”
In addition, those who are still in active addiction are less likely to voluntarily pursue substance abuse treatment due to fear of contracting the corona virus within a rehabilitation facility. In addition, many people may also lose a sense of hope and even question the worth of recovery during this time.
At Stonewall Institute, we understand the hardships that many are currently facing. But we absolutely believe that even in in times of pandemics and economic stress, there is still help and hope available. For those in the Phoenix are, our treatment professionals are on standby at 602-535-6468, ready to give support with safe and sanitary environments. But for those outside of Arizona unable to travel, there are a number of developments in the online world that may provide some much needed support for those seeking support in recovery.
Finding Online Recover Resources with Tech Together
Facebook, Twitter and Google are Partnering with the CSIP to launch an online platform called Tech Together (TechTogether.co). Tech Together is designed to support people who are either seeking help with substance use disorders, or those who are looking to maintain their recovery. The site is a succinct collection of online resources in order to not only assistance in substance abuse recovery, but also resources to help address the stigma associated with addiction.
Given that the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused the closure of a majority of Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings, an estimated 1,361,800 members are now looking for more accessible resources to help maintain their recovery. But interestingly enough, studies from Harvard have shown that over 2.5 adults in the United States were finding help from online resources for community support (and substance abuse interventions) even before the COVID-19 Pandemic.
By partnering with larger social media and search engine companies, the CSIP is now looking to help provide an online destination for those searching for community resources to assist in recovery.
Tech Together’s platform will also provide numerous educational resources for the loved ones of those trapped in the cycle of addiction. Given the wide-spread prevalence of addiction, nearly everyone in the US knows someone in addiction. Because of this, Major networks like Facebook, Google and Twitter are now showing their support for this endeavor.
Facebook, Google and Twitter’s Support for Tech Together
In order to help provide further accessibility to Tech Together, Twitter will be promoting several hashtags such as #OpenRecovery #RecoveryWorks and #RecoveryMovement as a means for those searching these tags will be able to engage in similar discussions, and then prompted to seek additional resources with Tech Together. Lauren Culbertson, the Senior Public Policy manager for Twitter noted: “Twitter is a powerful tool for connecting people in recovery to online resources and to each other, especially during this pandemic. […] It also facilitates, in real-time, a global, public conversation around this vital topic.”
Facebook’s Policy Programs are also taking step to further advocating for addiction recovery, but in a more privatized capacity. Facebook will be offering crisis support via their messenger app, as well as private addiction recovery groups. In addition to group interactions, Facebook will also be sharing online recovery resources. Within the past few months, studies from Facebook have shown a 50% increase in messenger communication between individuals struggling with substance abuse and treatment professionals.
As for Google’s endeavors, the company has helped to link Tech Together with other online recovery-based resources such as Transforming Youth recovery, The Center on Addiction and Young People in Recovery; all non-profit based organizations meant to futher coordinate treatment efforts.
According to Clifton, Once users enter Tech Together from these media venues, there will be a large array of resources to assist addicted individuals, as well as their loved ones, find available treatment option to meet their needs.
“There are screening tools by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as part of the National Institutes of Health and health treatment locator tools by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,” she said.
The Prospect of Additional Support Through Online Group Sessions
While the long-standing validity of online meetings is being tested, the reduction of social barriers through technology may be able to provide a sense of security for those needing more social support during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Anna David, an addiction recovery advocate and publisher for Launch Pad Publishing in Los Angeles, notes how she has personally found immense help from attending online recovery meetings. Being in recovery herself, she states that her online network has given her degrees of support that reach beyond many of her previous in-person support groups.
In an interview with local news, David notes how her willingness to engage in a recovery program has increased remarkably. While some may not be able to derive inspiration from online meetings compared to in-person support, but David’s experience shows that those who can connect well with online environments can derive great benefits from this platform. In addition, David also notes how many of her physical obstacles (most notably to be traffic in Los Angeles) to be circumvented due to the convenience of online community.
While every community (online or in-person) may have different dynamics, for those searching for like-minded individuals to sustain a life free addiction will often find it. With the added availability of these online resources through Tech Together, there will hopefully be fewer people across the nation that will have to face addiction and relapse-prevention alone.
Stonewall Institute’s Promise During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In these challenging times, we at Stonewall applaud the efforts made to provide help for addiction through Tech Together and other online platforms. Any step being taken to connect recovery-minded individuals during these stressful times may not only lessen the strain and stress of the pandemic, but also potentially save lives.
We also understand that while this approach may help many people, there are many who may not adjust as well to a virtual community for addiction support. For those individuals, we still strongly urge you to continue to seek out support in a form that best fits your mental and physical health.
Getting In-Person support in the Phoenix Area
For those in the Phoenix area, our team at Stonewall Institute would also like to reiterate that our treatment resources are absolutely open to those who may have either relapsed or are seeking treatment for the very first time. Our staff and licensed therapists are not only trained in the latest evidence-based practices, but they are also compliant with federal and state safety regulations to bring you quality care in a safe and hygienic environment.
Even after treatment is completed, we will be able to directly help you find support resources for recovery, whether they are in an online community, or in a safe environment for in-person connection. Whatever your needs are for an effective and sustained addiction recovery, we are ready to help you achieve it.
If you or a loved one are in need of help for substance abuse and addiction, please do not hesitate to call us at 602-535-6468. From all of us at Stonewall Institute, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay hopeful.
You can also explore Tech Togethers resources here: techtogether.co