One of the hallmarks of Hope Dealers is the reassurance that whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone.
In the 12 Step program Narcotics Anonymous, participants often shorten the name to N.A. That initialism has lent itself to a number of creative interpretations over the years, and one of the more popular ones is “Never Alone, Never Again.”
It’s a cheerful slogan that addicts (and alcoholics, because those who attend Alcoholics Anonymous are just as fervent in their belief in the power of unity) use to remind themselves that they have found a group of individuals all working toward the same goal: permanent recovery from addiction. Those with years of recovery are reminded of what addiction was like in the faces and stories of those coming into the rooms and still wearing their cloaks of pain; newcomers are energized by the hope that they, too, can stop using and lose the desire to do so when they see others on the same path pick up celebratory markers of 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, one year clean.
In recovery, the acceptance that addicts and alcoholics find through a kind word, a smile or a hug is immeasurable: “In early recovery, when I still stunk of alcohol and desperation, some woman in Toluca Lake in golf clothes hugged me, and it was so wonderful to know that she was not repelled by me," recovering alcoholic Jim M. told GQ  recently. “That was a huge deal to me. Touching people matters.”
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however, has upended that face-to-face intimacy. While a great deal of media attention has been given to shelter-in-place orders and calls for social distancing, addicts and alcoholics in recovery often find themselves wondering how they can avail themselves of the bonds they’ve come to rely on to maintain their sobriety: “For recovering alcoholics in the midst of this pandemic, the loss of meetings may lead to damaging social isolation and a dangerous removal of support systems for the participants in the program,” writes Mother Jones reporter Will Peischel .
After all, Reagan Reed — executive director of the Inter-Group Association of AA of New York — told Peischel, “It’s imperative to us that we meet in person. Alcoholics are, by nature, isolating people. One of, if not the most important thing, about AA and staying sober is physically bringing yourself to a meeting and putting yourself in a chair, and being in a room full of people who you can physically listen to, and look at, and relate to.”
But because of COVID-19, clubhouses are closed and church basements are locked, and addicts and alcoholics have to look to other means to provide one another with experience, strength and hope. One of the ways in which they can do so is through online meetings, or by staying in constant contact with a network of recovering peers.
“It’s really important that people in recovery stay connected, even if remotely,” William Moyers, vice president for Hazelden Betty Ford, told the Orange County Register . “People feeling lonely, isolated, upset — it’s important they ask for help. Reach out to fellow travelers by phone or text and say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling.’ What’s going to get us through this pandemic is the same that thing that gets us through addiction — stick together and pull in the right, and same, direction.”
Which is where a #HopeDealer like Brittany can make a world of difference. The storm that is the coronavirus is affecting everyone, but addicts and alcoholics, those new to recovery and those still seeking it, may feel adrift on a raft threatened by towering waves. Recovery programs preach the acceptance of life on life’s terms, but COVID-19 and all of the turmoil surrounding it is a whole lot of life to accept all at once. And when there’s no meeting open in which to seek solace and strength, an addict’s recovery can seem uncertain or even pointless.
“Make no mistake, after this is over, many people will have relapsed and lives will be ruined,” writes A.J. Daulerio for GQ .
When it comes to addiction recovery, there is a need for hope now, more than ever before. Individuals like Brittany and others we’re labeling as “Hope Dealers” provide that through a short glimpse into their own backgrounds, as well as the beauty they’ve found in sobriety. The message is a simple one reflected in the literature of programs like N.A., A.A., Celebrate Recovery, Recovery Dharma, Refuge Recovery and so many other programs dedicated to helping individuals find hope in an otherwise hopeless situation.
“Our community spirit has deepened in these trying times, in terms of really trying to make sure we all have the best possible information and resources to get through this — not only sober, but emotionally well and in a positive way,” Sarah, a member of AA from Toronto, told Canada’s Global News recently .
And so we’re honored to feature another Hope Dealer in Brittany. Please, share her message far and wide, and encourage everyone in your network to record their own video. Hashtag it #HopeDealer, post it to social media and spread the word:
We will get through this. If we can make it through the ruins of our disease, we can hold on until we circle up at the next in-person meeting, because the hope that sustains us there doesn’t disappear when the doors close. We carry it with us wherever we go, and it’s up to us to share it freely so that others may use it as a beacon to find their way out of the storm.