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Pandemic forces recovery groups to go virtual


Recovery coaches with Parent Network of Rhode Island demonstrate what a typical virtual meeting would look like.

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for local recovery groups to meet in person, especially with restrictions on crowd sizes.

After being forced to cancel all in-person meetings, local recovery coaches have opted to host virtual meetings instead to provide continued support for their group members.

Recovery coaches have had to get creative to ensure their group members receive the support they need while also abiding by Gov. Gina Raimondo’s order limiting crowds to 10 people or less.

Recovery coaches with Parent Network of Rhode Island demonstrate what a typical virtual meeting would look like.

Coaches with the Parent Network of Rhode Island showed Eyewitness News a demonstration of what the virtual meetings look like.

Here’s how it works: recovery coaches start a video conference and invite their group members to join. Once everyone is logged in, members can share experiences and hold discussions. Those who aren’t members but are seeking help can also join the conference call.

Monica Smith, CEO of R.I. Cares, said the meetings, whether in-person or virtual, can be a vital step in someone’s recovery process.

That’s why she said the nonprofit organization is ensuring all recovery programs transitioning their meetings online have all the resources they need.

“Our immediate response was, ‘Let’s support the agencies that are getting their meetings online, let’s make sure they have the tools they need,'” Smith said.

Jessica Jalbert, a recovery coach with Parent Network of Rhode Island, said the meetings are cathartic not only for the group members but for the coaches as well, especially for those who are in recovery like herself.

“It’s exacerbating some of our symptoms, and I’m not immune to that stuff,” Jalbert said of lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic. “These support groups are as supportive for me as they are for peers that are dropping in on the meetings.”

Jalbert said the online meetings can be a great way for those seeking help to try the program.

Want to join a recovery group? Learn more here »

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