How Alcoholics Anonymous is offering help during a pandemic


AUSTIN (KXAN) — COVID-19 is tough on all of us, but on top of that stress imagine battling addiction along with isolation, depression and constant change.

Like so many other things in our lives, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings have moved online, but some are saying less people are showing up to the online meetings.

“Chaotic, a lot of drama,” said Gary H., who described his life while he was drinking. “Failure at a lot of things.”

Gary says he is a different person now. Relationships with his family and friends have come a long way over the years because he decided to make a change.

“There was hope,” said Gary, as he showed the book he read that helped him through his struggles.”The people that wrote this book understood what was going on in my head and there was hope.”

Now sober for 18 years, he helps others dealing with alcoholism at AA in Austin, but recently he says there have been fewer and fewer people to help.

“Attendance is down, there is no doubt about that,” Gary said.

With many meetings moving online people aren’t showing up to get the help they need.

“People finding recovery are finding a more challenging time today than they were six months ago because of COVID-19,” Gary said.

RJ Garcia, a drug and alcohol counselor with the Doable Recovery Institute, says age could be one factor.

“If we have a 75-year-old who may not even know how to use a computer, then yeah, that is going to be difficult,” Garcia said.

While Garcia meets with his clients online, he says some have improvised with so many COVID-19 restrictions.

“In the Austin area I have had some clients tell me they have had in-person meetings in the park where they all are about six feet away,” Garcia said.

The message to those who need help, don’t give up because help is out there.

“The hand of AA is here to help people recover get and stay sober,” Gary said.

Some meetings have returned to in-person sessions.

If you are struggling with alcoholism and need help, Austin AA could provide some help. You can also call the AA hotline at (512) 444-0071.

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