Maintaining Connection While Social Distancing

April 21, 2020

One of my favorite things we do at Alpha is our Rite of Passage experience. It is a 4-day trauma intensive that takes place at a Bed and Breakfast in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, right on the Medina River. The grounds are lush and green, and the river is bordered by massive Cypress trees that create a spacious, cathedral like effect over the river. It is a fantastic site for healing and deep inner work.

As COVID-19 has exploded across the globe, recovery networks have had to swiftly adapt to maintaining connection while having to shelter-in-place. The incredibly resourceful and resilient recovery community has utilized various video conferencing software to continue to have meetings, H and I’s, and do step work. This has worked well for many, but naturally lacks the same punch as in-person meetings. Isolation and procrastination are easy traps to fall into during this time, and it is likely that the new world we are adapting to is and has resulted in many relapses.

At Alpha 180, we knew we would have to adapt to provide our community with that quintessential recovery element: connection. We adopted the use of video conferencing, now being utilized for group and individual therapy, recreational activities such as yoga, and in-house recovery meetings. However, tele-health technologies are limited in their ability to provide an engaging therapeutic experience. We knew we would need to more to protect our community and keep them united in their recovery process.

To help contain the impending threat COVID-19 presented, we decided to temporarily relocate our entire community to the site of the Rite of Passage – the B&B in Bandera, TX. We pulled together as a staff, thought through the many logistical considerations, and got on the road! The retreat location sits on 50 acres of riverfront property where our students can shelter-in-place safely. Alpha 180 members are able to continue online school, have in-person community meetings, and be safe from exposure to the virus.

Despite being timely, the transition has posed a number of logistical and emotional challenges as restlessness stirs. We empathize with the country, especially frontline behavioral healthcare workers, that are practicing creativity and resiliency during this time of uncertainty. Addiction thrives in isolation and maintaining a sense of community is vital for recovery, even during this pandemic. We are tremendously grateful to be a part of a national community that continues to find innovative solutions to maintain community during these times. We will get through this together!

By Austin Herrmann, LMSW, LCDC