Josh Pringle CTV News Ottawa Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist
OTTAWA — The Ottawa fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous wants recovering addicts to know you are not alone during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The physical distancing guidelines and other COVID-19 restrictions forced an end to all face-to-face meetings, but Narcotics Anonymous insists there is still help available to recovering addicts in Ottawa and area.
“You can still get clean and there are still people here to support you, no matter what,” said Rebecca of the Ottawa fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
For nearly four decades, Ottawa addicts have been meeting in community centres, churches and town halls to help stay clean. The COVID-19 measures put in place two months ago forced Narcotics Anonymous to move all meetings online.
“Meetings are obviously a pretty integral part of the program of recovery for Narcotics Anonymous,” says Antoine, noting all members attend meetings in Ottawa and across eastern Ontario.
“Since the (COVID-19) closures happened, within days I would say, home groups reached out to each other online and then found a number of online sources to be holding meetings virtually.”
In an interview with CTV News Ottawa, Antoine, Rebecca and Don all said there was an adjustment to moving the meetings online for the Ottawa fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous, but everyone is grateful for the shift to virtual meetings during the pandemic.
“We kind of use the term addicts helping addicts. So to have our meetings continue, just to have that familiarity and that consistency, was incredibly important,” said Rebecca about the importance of continuing the peer-to-peer support online during the pandemic.
In a statement, the Ottawa fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous says “ours is very much a disease of isolation, and the pandemic may lead one to think that there is no help out there, that they are truly alone.”
“With this in mind, we feel it is more important than ever for people to know that we are still here, perhaps stronger than ever.”
Antoine notes the move to virtual meetings has allowed him and others to join Narcotics Anonymous meetings in 144 different countries, giving people a chance to join a global fellowship to receive and provide support.
Don says there are no professionals involved in the Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and the support comes from fellow addicts.
If you are seeking help for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Antoine wants you to know that the Ottawa fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is there to help despite the restrictions on gatherings.
“We do still exist, we are still united, the fellowship is still very active and meetings are available.”
You can visit www.ottawana.org for information on virtual meetings. You can also call 1-888-811-3887.
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