Recovery Groups in Lane County Are Going Online

Many recovery groups in Lane County are scrambling to find each other for meetings in the face of the novel coronavirus that has shut down the county and the state. Be they for alcohol, drugs, debt, overeating, co-dependency or other needs, they are having a difficult time scheduling meetings.

Al-Anon, especially, is having problems. “District 6 (meeting schedule),” reads the Lane Chapter website, “is really going to be short because of all the closed meetings.”

It’s painful to the people who need these meetings.

“It’s hard to talk to people who don’t have the same issues,” says Stacy Bierma, the outreach coordinator for Refuge Recovery in Eugene. “They just don’t get it.”

Refuge Recovery is a national nonprofit that practices Buddhist principles in an effort to establish a foundation for a path away from addiction. In that sense, it differs from the traditional higher power-based approach to recovery practiced by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

No matter what approach one takes, the front-and-center question is where to find meetings. This is true in AA since the Jesco Club, a longtime gathering spot on Blair Boulevard for recovering alcoholics, has closed its doors until at least April 15, according to the club’s Facebook page. It’s the first time the club’s doors have ever been closed.

There have been reports of recovery meetings taking place in parks if churches are not available, Large groups break into small groups of 10 or fewer people, all the while maintaining a safe social distance from one another.

Then there’s Zoom, the free video conferencing app that has been in high demand since the coronavirus showed itself.

Refuge Recovery uses it for the time being, as does the Eugene Insight Meditation Community. Meditation groups throughout the area are using other means of live streaming.

Bierma used Zoom for the first time last week for a Refuge Recovery meeting. There were 15 people in the video chat, she says, and she recognized all but one.

“It’s way better than nothing,” she says, adding that there is a video meeting every day.

And Oregon Recovers launched in partnership with Google to provide a centralized source of resources for the Oregon recovery community.

Bierma muses at what used to be just a short time ago. As the outreach coordinator for the local Refuge Community, she has helped set up meetings at Buckley House, the Lane County Jail and other venues. Many other drug and alcohol recovery programs have done the same thing.

Not now, of course, and not for the foreseeable future.