Brandon Lee of Arizona's Family spoke with the director of Purpose Healing Center, Gabriel Tomaeno, in Scottsdale where they treat people with a variety of addictions.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- With the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing is our new normal. But, what about those who are in recovery? According to health experts, isolation for recovering alcoholics and addicts can be dangerous. The first 90 days are critical when someone chooses to get sober. There’s a saying in recovery called “90 in 90," meaning 90 meetings in 90 days. But, what happens when those 12-step meetings are no longer an option because of social distancing?

Brandon Lee of Arizona's Family spoke with the director of Purpose Healing Center, Gabriel Tomaeno, in Scottsdale where they treat people with a variety of addictions.

AZ health expert: Social distancing puts recovering alcoholics, addicts at risk

"What do we tell people who are trying to stay sober right now, to keep them sober in a world where we are all self-isolating?" asked Lee when talking to Tamaeno.

"That's a great question, and something I've even had to ask myself because being sober is such a social activity. You're going to coffee shops. You're talking to people in recovery. You're also reaching out to people in recovery by going to meetings and different types of events. And all these things were just kind of shut down instantaneously, and we've had to think of different solutions to combat our cravings. The main thing I've found through my peers is to stay connected via internet and phone calls and sending text messages and checking up on people. It’s really tough, but the main thing is to stay active and stay talking to people through this time."

Normally, there are hundreds of 12-step meetings in the Valley. Every hour, on the hour. Here’s a link  to all AA meetings in the Valley. 

While the meetings are closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, each of these meetings has its own Facebook page where addicts can connect with other addicts via social media.

Addiction experts say if you are forced to stay home for long amounts of time, it’s important to get rid of all the alcohol in your house if there’s someone who is trying to maintain their sobriety in the household. Experts say panic and anxiety can lead someone to pick up a drink. Tomaeno encourages his patients to try mediation or yoga throughout the day, even if it’s only ten minutes at a time.

"We often talk about the 90 in 90. You know the first 90 days of recovery we encourage people to hit 90 meetings in 90 days to get them into that routine to show up to a 12-step meeting. If those 12-step meetings are closed and canceled right now, what should that person do?" asked Lee.

"Luckily we have meetings that we can do online, and it's for every fellowship and support group across the board. So, we can still do those. Those meetings are still going on 24 hours a day in different states and different countries, so that's great. We still have those solutions so you can still go to a meeting every day just in a different setting now."

Purpose Healing Center says all of their in-patient clients are in quarantine right now. They are still serving out-patient clients via telemedicine. If you are concerned about your mental health or the health of a friend or family member, reach out to a recovery center. Many are open during this crisis.


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