For many people struggling with addiction, going to groups is very important. Right now there are no groups.
Rev. Shane Laswell is the minister of Morning Star UMC’s Celebrate Recovery, and he’s worried.
“Addicts are not good at reaching out when they need help,” Laswell said.
Celebrate Recovery is a Christian-based 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous that addresses a variety of issues. Laswell said it is critical that people stay connected at this time, and Celebrate Recovery’s accountability teams and sponsors are making calls, Facetiming and doing what they can to overcome isolation. A couple of days ago Laswell received a message that simply said: “I can’t do this anymore.” Laswell did a suicide risk assessment.
“The person didn’t need to be committed, but he did need to be in community,” he said.
Celebrate Recovery has its regular worship service on Thursday nights. Starting March 26, it follows the worship service with Open Share Groups they have established on the video conferencing platform Zoom. Morning Star is starting with a dozen groups of various issues including things like alcoholism, chemical dependency, survivors of abuse and anger management. The groups will have three to 15 participants and last up to 40 minutes.
“It gives people a time to share their struggles and their hopes,” Laswell said.
So that people may share openly, there are strict protocols with the groups. Participants must wear headsets so other people won’t overhear the conversations. They must have a camera enabled so they can show others on the virtual meeting that they are in a private setting. The meetings are not recorded. Chat is disabled so that one person in the group cannot privately comment about another person in the group to someone else.
“I think the Open Share Groups on Zoom are going to be a huge piece of what we are doing,” Laswell said.
He also thinks once a week is not going to be enough. He’s encouraging people to participate in online Open Share Groups at other Celebrate Recovery ministries. Laswell’s Celebrate Recovery is also doing Facebook live videos on Wednesday nights.
Laswell is concerned that more people will be turning to alcohol and drugs to cope with stress and isolation, spawning more dependency problems.
“When I’ve been to the grocery store lately I’ve seen people with more alcohol in their carts than food,” he said.