Staying sober in the time of COVID-19
‘Face-to-face is really the connection’
An advocate for better addiction treatment services on P.E.I. said people with addictions are facing new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, Ellen Taylor hosted a packed public meeting in Charlottetown where people could share their experiences of living with addiction on P.E.I. Taylor herself is currently in recovery, and said it was scary how the pandemic upended the life she had built to keep herself straight.
It started with an opportunity to go back to work as a teacher evaporating.
"I actually had a contract for after March break but that didn't happen," said Taylor.
Recovery groups stopped meeting as people were told to retreat into their homes. That personal connection, she said, is important for people in recovery.
"The face-to-face is really the connection where, you know, you see the pain in somebody or someone sees the pain in you, and you can say, you know, I've been there and I know what it's like," said Taylor.
In-person appointments with her psychiatrist have moved to the telephone.
The stresses that so many are feeling during the pandemic — the financial difficulties, the social isolation — have pushed some back into their addictive behaviours, she said.
But Taylor refused to stay idle. She and a couple of friends set up a Facebook group to connect people and give them the opportunity to support each other. It was meant for Islanders, but now has about 370 members Canada-wide.
Some recovery groups have begun to meet again, if they were lucky enough to to have an appropriate space. Others are looking for larger spaces that can host gatherings while meeting physical distancing requirements.
The momentum built up following the February public forum is gone, with the recovery community struggling to restore what it had, rather than working for new things. Taylor remains hopeful, however, that some of the initiatives that were being discussed in February can get back on track in the fall.