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Tips for Recovery Meetings during COVID Inspired by Art

american addiction centers photo
November 2, 2020

Sometimes, you don’t have to craft content mainly through words. You can draw it. Then, to clarify concepts and elaborate upon them, add captions. That’s exactly what an illustrator did to describe life for someone struggling with addiction during the pandemic. The end result presents this person’s own experience, which likely reflects that of others. This approach captured a range of points in the form of a storyboard. And it ran as an opinion piece in the New York Times as “Op Art: Recovery in Isolation.”

This post starts with a bit of a jolt. That is: “I expected sobriety to be easier when I was forced to stay home…” What accounts for this pronouncement? Rather than simplifying the recovery process, restrictions may cause the opposite. Several factors make it harder. They include: downtime, high anxiety, social isolation and uncertainty.people on a computer call having online recovery meetings during covid

These effects of the COVID-19 crisis are immutable. But take note: they apply to the population in general. They are not the exclusive domain of those contending with recovery at this time. With that in mind, let’s go through the issues raised, what to be aware of and how to succeed.

‘Zoom takes AA Meetings to a New Level’ 

Nix in-person recovery meetings during the pandemic. Instead, welcome to the world of Zoom. “Weird” is the word that comes up several times in this post about various aspects of this format. Rather than seeing peers in full frame, Zoom often presents people in thumbnail form. This platform shows a swatch of the participants’ living spaces. It also captures background noise, intrusions and not necessarily the most pleasing camera angles. Managing group dynamics may prove unruly as well.

The essence is: Zoom takes some getting used to. What can you do to adapt to recovery meetings on Zoom?

Know before you go and afterwards too

Get acquainted with Zoom before using it as well as finding out more following a session. Visit the Zoom Help Center. Use this site to learn about this video conference app. Take short tutorials here. Scan sections on meeting controls, breakout rooms, closed captioning and more.

Take advice from the experts

Lots of people are writing about how to Zoom. CNET.com is a go-to resource about new tech and, per its charter, is offering helpful content. One post in particular discusses how to customize your Zoom background, manage audio and video settings as well as share your screen. Check out “How to use Zoom like a pro: 13 video chat tips and tricks to try at your next meeting.” Some ideas covered in this piece: camouflage your surroundings by using a virtual backdrop; drown out ambient noise by muting your audio when not speaking – control it with your space bar; block out your image completely by switching off your camera either on an ad hoc basis or always.

Get ready for your close up

Want to put your best face forward on Zoom? Why not? Access posts by photographic and cosmetic professionals to find out how to optimize your appearance. Recommendations span lighting, which devices to use – laptop or phone? – headsets, camera/eye level and more. It’s all here at: “Six tips for looking great in a Zoom meeting” and “A cinematographer’s guide to looking good during a video call.”man talking to peers during online recovery meetings during covid

Bombs away!

Take heed: there’s a Zoom hazard to avoid – “Zoombombing,” also known as “Zoom raiding.” It refers to uninvited guests who crash meetings; they hijack the proceedings and, through their antics, tend to shut down sessions. At recovery meetings, these hackers can cause damage by dangling comments that encourage participants to abandon treatment. How can you protect yourself and others? Check your settings to determine if they include security and, if so, use them. Others: create a unique password when establishing your Zoom account; configure your settings to only allow the host to share your screen. See “How to Prevent ‘Zoombombing’ in a Few Easy Steps” and “How to Prevent Zoom Bombing.”

Despite the challenges, recovery meetings on Zoom serve a critical purpose. The illustrator who created this piece addresses the benefits. The sessions provide a sense of community and support not only for the individual but also for all in the group to stay the course. The last frame of the storyboard drills this point home with a twist: “For me, having a room – even a virtual one – to do that is really important right now… but I do miss the free bad coffee.”

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