Andra Gemmell, RP #11293 is a Registered Psychotherapist at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with adults through anxiety, addictions, depression, self-esteem, relationships, boundaries, and work-life balance. Learn more about Andra here.

Free Virtual Drug and Alcohol Addiction Resources

As a mental health professional who has worked for over six years in various capacities with individuals experiencing substance use issues and addiction, I often hear from clients how they experience loneliness. Sometimes the lifestyle that comes with excessive drug or alcohol use can lead to breakdown of relationships with family, friends, or loved ones, but sometimes stigma and lack of understanding from society further creates isolation. Some individuals have reported that they use substances to cope with feeling misunderstood and lonely, while others have said that they have felt increasingly lonely once their substance use increased (Ingram et al., 2020). The pandemic has further increased feelings of loneliness during isolation in lockdowns and prevention of social gatherings, including support groups, which has also resulted in increased substance use and addiction (Shield et al., 2021).

Support groups can help reduce feelings of loneliness by surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals who have shared experiences and goals of reducing substance use, which can create a sense of belonging (Ingram et al., 2020).

Over the last two years, it has become difficult to connect with others during the pandemic, but there are many free virtual resources for adults who may want support for reducing or stopping substance use that can help build a sense of community, belonging, and acceptance. While addiction can be addressed with a regulated mental health or healthcare professional, I have put together this list of free virtual resources as additional supplementary options for support and education.

In the Rooms

In the Rooms offers informational articles about recovery and over 130 weekly online meetings for those recovering from addiction and related issues, that embraces multiple pathways including 12 Step, non-12 Step, agnostic, and wellness and mental health modalities. In addition to live meetings, there is an online support network of other individuals in recovery to help build community and ease feelings of loneliness.
https://www.intherooms.com/home/

HAMS

HAMS stands for harm reduction, abstinence, and moderation support, and supports any goal from safer use to reduced use to abstinence. It is a peer-led support and informational group for individuals who primarily want to change their drinking habits, but are also welcoming to those who use any substance. HAMS offers community through online forums, chat rooms, a Facebook group, and email support group.
https://hams.cc/

12 Step Meetings

This is a directory of anonymous meetings in various formats including email, chat room, online video, and telephone. 12 step meetings are typically abstinence-based on spiritual principles that support recovery from addiction. The following links can help you find the right meeting for you depending on the time and day that works for your schedule, the location and format you prefer, and the substance you would like support to stop using.
Alcoholics Anonymous: https://aa-intergroup.org/meetings/
Cocaine Anonymous: https://www.ca-online.org/
Narcotics Anonymous: https://www.na.org/meetingsearch/

AA Sober Living

AA Sober Living is for help for those in all stages of recovery from alcohol use, family, friends and loved ones including message boards, chats, blogs, and daily and weekly readings.
www.aasoberliving.com

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is an online community that features daily meetings, message board, recovery tools, and 24/7 live chat. There is support for individuals who use substances, but also for family and friends who are concerned about an individual’s use.
https://www.smartrecovery.org/community/

The Daily Pledge

The Daily Pledge is an online social community for abstinence-based accountability and commitment for sobriety. It is for individuals in recovery, but also their loved ones. The website includes discussion forums, chats, online meetings, and other interactive activities for daily connection. It provides a place for individuals to stop by daily to commit to recovery for another 24 hours, and be encouraged by others on the same journey.
https://thedailypledge.org/

Breaking Free Online

Breaking Free Online is an educational support tool, that is free for people in Ontario ages 16 and up, to help reduce or stop the use of substances. It offers self-guided courses, positive coping skills, and behaviour change techniques to help with recovery. It is accessible 24/7, has a live online dashboard, and even a Companion app for Android and iPhones that has mindfulness videos and can “nudge” you to stay safe in high risk for relapse situations.
https://www.breakingfreeonline.ca/

References:

Ingram, Kelly, P. J., Deane, F. P., Baker, A. L., Goh, M. C. W., Raftery, D. K., & Dingle, G. A. (2020). Loneliness among people with substance use problems: A narrative systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Review, 39(5), 447–483. https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.13064

Shield, K. D., Chrystoja, B. R., Ali, S., Sohi, I., Rehm, J., Nigatu, Y. T., Elton-Marshall, T., Hamilton, H., Jankowicz, D., & Wells, S. (2021). Changes in alcohol consumption in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic: Associations with anxiety and self-perception of depression and loneliness. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 57(2), 190–197. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agab055

Andra Gemmell, RP #11293 is a Registered Psychotherapist at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with adults through anxiety, addictions, depression, self-esteem, relationships, boundaries, and work-life balance. Learn more about Andra here.

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