Pandemic puts recovery at risk for those with substance, alcohol use disorders

Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 15:50:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 is having an impact on the way people drink in Central Indiana, and the isolation and stress can be especially tough on those in recovery.

Alex lives in Indianapolis and has been recovering from alcoholism for 20 years.

"If it weren't for recovery, I would be dead today I'm sure," Alex said. “My sobriety is extremely important.”

Liquor stores are open, and at the same time, many people are having limited contact with their support system such as friends, family and other people in recovery.

Alex works for Alcoholics Anonymous and says most AA meetings have been moved to virtual meetings rather than in-person.

“They’re stressed, especially newer folks in recovery struggle when they’re isolated,” Alex said. “That is what is happening now everywhere.”

Alex says COVID-19 creates an atmosphere that encourages people to drink more than they normally do.

"I see so many jokes about oh let's have a drink today, home with the kids,” Alex said. “It's not funny if you can't stop at one drink."

Dr. Cameual Wright, a CareSource Indiana Medical Director, agreed COVID-19 has created a culture that makes it easier and socially acceptable to drink to excess.

"Many people need outlets from stress and that can involve alcohol and substances,” Wright said. “Someone has coined the term ‘quarantini’ which is a fun term, but it's not fun when you struggle with alcoholism or substance use disorder."

Wright says red flags could be if you need a drink to make it through the day, if your family and friends say you should cut back, or if your drinking is impacting your job or relationships.

"At this time of social distancing, it's very important to use technology to our benefit,” Wright said. “There are various ways to seek treatment face to face without seeking treatment. Don't let this time of social distancing allow you to be isolated and to feel that you're not. You're certainly not alone."

You can reach out to your health care provider, call a hotline, or contact AA — which is having some limited in-person meetings as well as virtual meetings.


  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. You can learn more information here.
  • General 12 step support
  • Learn more information about online support groups here.
  • View more information about Alcoholics Anonymous here.
  • In The Rooms has more information about a free online recovery tool here.
  • Information about online meetings with Narcotics Anonymous can be found here.
  • Find a Narcotics Anonymous meeting here.
  • Find more information about 12 step meetings with Narcotics Anonymous here.
  • Virtual Narcotics Anonymous meeting information can be found online.
  • Smart Recovery
  • Learn more about Al-Anon electronic meetings here.
  • Download the AA app here.
  • Learn more about Chess Health here.
  • Download the Sober Grid mobile sober community app here.


  • myStrength is a safe and secure tool with personalized support to help members 13 years of age and older. This tool can be accessed online or on a mobile device, at no cost to you. You can visit its website for more information.
  • In addition to case management services through providers, CareSource offers care coordination and management through our Care4U program. Visit its website for more information.
  • CareSource 24 is available for members. Call 1-866-206-9599 (TTY: 1-800-648-6056 or 711) and speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week including holidays.