September 15 is National Online Learning Day, a celebration of educational resources that you can utilize at the click of a button. Naturally, this day largely speaks to educators, as well as children, teenagers and college students who wish to bolster their efforts both inside and outside the classroom. The official website, however, notes that Online Learning Day is for everyone. As such, we thought we’d have some fun by discussing a few online recovery tools that you can use daily.
A few of these resources pertain to addiction education, while others gear more toward the social side of recovery. One or two simply allow you to engage in some quality fun. Either way, we hope you find at least one online recovery tool in this list that you can add to your daily toolbox.
Online Recovery Tool #1: Meetings
The saying goes that “meeting-makers make it.” Obviously, recovery requires more than meetings. Nonetheless, the social aspect and the ability to share what weighs on our hearts can help us greatly. So it proves unfortunate when a person’s schedule makes it difficult for them to attend good meetings in their area.
Luckily, the internet age prevents us from using this as an excuse. If you do a quick search for online meetings, sources will pop up for pages and pages. One you might find interesting is In the Rooms, an online recovery community offering video meetings in a diverse range of programs. Sufferers of addiction might enjoy AA or NA, while family members can participate in programs such as ACA, Al-Anon and CoDA. They even do a couple of meditation groups, if you feel you can meditate next to your computer (more on that later).
Online meetings won’t necessarily replace face-to-face meetings, but they supplement them quite well. And they actually double as an educational tool, helping you to broaden your horizons and try out various programs. Some programs aren’t quite as widespread as others, so your nearest CoDA or Refuge Recovery meeting might not be too close. And let’s face it, no one wants to drive half an hour just to risk disappointment. By finding an online meeting, you can test the waters and see if you might want to give it an honest go. Through this simple online recovery resource, you can diversify your recovery experience to practically no end.
Online Recovery Tool #2: Facebook
Much like online meetings, Facebook groups offer us a socially beneficial recovery tool. Unlike meetings, we can seek the support we need without adhering to format. And since meetings don’t generally allow for cross-talk, we can share our thoughts and feelings in a forum that allows us to receive an immediate response.
Again, some programs simply don’t spread as far as AA. And even those of us with a loving support system sometimes have trouble getting hold of someone when we need to talk. Facebook groups let us discuss our issues with people who understand, and the larger ones increase the chances of receiving feedback and support in a timely manner. Groups such as Addiction Support for You cater to addicts and alcoholics, while A Mother’s Hope provides caring support to family members dealing with the struggles of a loved one. If you qualify as both an addict and a family member, you might prefer A Helping Hand, which caters to the recovery community at large.
This online recovery tool doesn’t provide education in the formal sense, but it does allow us to learn from others who might have more experience. The same can be said of our next entry.
Online Recovery Tool #3: Forums
Sometimes we find it easier to talk with a stranger. Facebook groups provide this to a certain degree, but we usually forge relationships within them. If you want the opinions of countless people who don’t know your story and can remain objective, try The e-AA Group.
The e-AA Group offers discussion threads in a wide variety of topics. You can ask questions about issues such as sponsorship and the 12 Steps, or even just celebrate your sobriety date. Users on their general discussion page post topics on everything ranging from personal issues such as forgiveness and anxiety to more philosophical issues such as free will. You can also find differing opinions on potentially controversial issues such as pain medication or the validity of relationships in early sobriety. Some people even use it as a confessional, talking about lies they told their sponsor or shares they felt embarrassed about. And of course, they have a section for friends and family members.
Whatever you might need to ask, somebody will answer. They can only offer opinions and suggestions, but it remains a great online recovery tool for seeking help from a wide variety of personalities.
Online Recovery Tool #4: Literature
Like most things in life, recovery sometimes comes with hidden costs. If you seek treatment, you’ll already have a copy of the Big Book. But maybe you haven’t actually entered recovery, and want to read it for an idea of what sobriety looks like. Maybe you used to own a Big Book, but simply lost it.
Don’t worry. You can find online recovery literature just about anywhere. Literature that hasn’t received program approval (such as books like Drop the Rock) may not be freely accessible, but you can find the basics. Programs such as AA, NA, SAA and Al-Anon all offer pages with PDF forms of books and pamphlets that will help you understand how they work and what they can offer. Any time you want to learn about a program, you should always do a search for their literature to see what you can find.
This seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people with questions fail to think of it. But with the internet so saturated with information, Google really can act as one of the greatest recovery tools out there. We must simply remember to use it.
Online Recovery Tool #5: Official Websites
We already linked a few above, so we won’t repeat the process here. But this follows the same rule we just noted with Google. If you have questions about a program, simply look it up. Not only do programs such as AA, Al-Anon and Refuge Recovery all maintain official web pages, but they also offer resources that we can use when not on the computer. Need to find a meeting? The official page will bring you to one.
You can even save yourself a step by plugging your preferred program’s name into a search engine alongside your city or county. Most county-wide intergroup offices maintain their own pages, and sometimes you’ll find meeting listings that don’t make it onto the official program page. When new meetings start up, the listings don’t always follow right away. But if they aren’t on the official program page, your local intergroup office (whose number you can also usually find online) will help you find them.
While you’re at it, you might want it look up your intergroup’s address and see what books or pamphlets they have for sale. They offer more than just official literature, some of it covering some very specific recovery topics. Once again, what we’re discussing here isn’t so much an online recovery tool as a basic resource, but it’s nice to know you can find a brick-and-mortar institution with just a simple web search.
Online Recovery Tool #6: YouTube
In case you didn’t already know this, YouTube offers a lot more that crazy cat bloopers and angry political vlogs. Interested in addiction science? Just look up a TED Talk or a short documentary. Stuck at work and can’t make it to a meeting? Enjoy a recorded speaker meeting by classic speakers such as Chuck Chamberlain or Sandy Beach. Perhaps you’re just feeling a bit stressed and need to get back on the beam. That’s fine, just check out a guided meditation on a topic like gratitude or self-forgiveness.
Just play around a bit and explore. In case you haven’t gathered by now, the internet itself is essentially one giant recovery tool when we use it correctly. Whatever you want, you can probably find it.
Online Recovery Tool #7: Free Games
Okay, so this last one clearly doesn’t fall too neatly under the banner of online recovery tools. And it definitely won’t act as much of an educational resource. But we want to conclude with it for two reasons. First, we need to have fun sometimes. Sobriety isn’t all tears and resentment lists. Every once in a while, we need to take a moment and just relax. Ten to fifteen minutes playing a simple click-based helicopter game might help you do that.
More than that, however, is the surprising benefit that online distractions can have when you’re dealing with cravings. In a 2015 study, researchers concluded that just three minutes of a game like Tetris or Candy Crush can reduce addiction cravings by 13.9%, or about one fifth. They theorize this works because the games distract our brain’s spatial and visual systems—the same systems that can turn a mild craving into a full-blown fantasy. They further concluded that the percentage, while seemingly low, can be just enough to make our cravings seem more tolerable. The urgent need to use may become more of a passing thought, something that we can simply wait out until it passes.
If you didn’t know about the above study, let that be another lesson in the joys of online recovery—the ability to share new things with one another. So if you know of some online recovery tools that we neglected to mention, feel free to share them with each other in our comments. We’ll look forward to trying them ourselves.