It would be nearly impossible to get through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic without the help of others. Those fighting through the early stages of recovery need that support more than ever.
Residents at The GateHouse know this firsthand. While leaning on each other has always been part of the program, it’s been a godsend for seven women participating in the Marietta Transitional Recovery program during the quarantine.
For women in the final phases of onsite recovery treatment at GateHouse Transitional Living (GTL), the transition program is the last step before they return to their families and homes or start a new life. It provides positive influence, structure, and access to resources, such as 12-step meetings, clinical support, and life-skills coaching from professional team members.
The Typical Transitional Living Routine
Typically, the program houses women in addiction recovery for up to one year.
During that time, they make meals and share in household chores. They attend weekly outpatient group therapy and bi-weekly individual meetings with counselors. Sunday evenings the women gather together for house meetings.
They often see one another in passing as they go about their daily lives at The GateHouse. In preparing to transition to independent living, the women enjoy several overnight visits a month with family and friends. They work, run errands, go to doctor’s appointments.
Life in Quarantine: A New Wrinkle in Recovery
Under quarantine, life for everyone at The GateHouse has changed.
Several women with essential jobs continue to work while the others have been laid off until the quarantine is lifted.
Like many facilities that have remained operational during the pandemic, The GateHouse implemented extra safety precautions. But along with temperature checks and face masks, the women struggle to deal with one of the most difficult aspects of addiction recovery—seclusion.
“The quarantine adds a whole new level of isolation,” said Shanon, the women’s house manager and fellow recovery resident. “We all have to sit with our thoughts and feelings and confront our realities.”
The quarantine could have been an easy excuse to give up or return to old habits.
Yet, Shanon said the women she’s with are emerging stronger than ever.
The Separation Struggle
Initially, the pandemic created anger and fear, she said. The residents couldn’t leave for overnight visits with their kids or meet up with friends.
“There was a lot of depression,” Shanon, a mother of three, said. “Going through treatment is physically and emotionally isolating. Having to deal with your feelings is hard enough without being quarantined.”
As time went on, Shanon said the women came to grips with their emotions.
“We realized that once we’ve gotten this far in recovery, we can get through anything,” she said.
The women heavily rely on one another, she added.
“We’ve been there for each other,” she said. “An ear to listen, a hand to hold. Overcoming addiction is all about the support you receive.”
One Day at a Time
“Not every day is perfect,” Shanon said. “If you can get through those hard days without using, it makes you stronger.”
The quarantine has also given the women a new perspective.
“We’re really grateful for our jobs now, whereas before it was easy to complain,” Shanon said. “When this is over, we all want to make a conscious effort to appreciate things more.”
The women can reach out to family, friends, and their sponsors, but they aren’t able to visit them during the quarantine. They have the option to meet in person for group sessions, but most have opted to attend via Zoom until the quarantine has lifted.
Sometimes, the best people to lean on are others going through recovery because friends and family may be in active addiction or simply don’t get it.
“People who don’t have an addiction don’t understand the physical and mental part of it,” Shanon said. “They think you can just get over it.”
But anyone who’s ever suffered from addiction knows it is way more complicated than that.
“It takes time to get back everything you destroyed—relationships with your children and family, losing homes and jobs,” Shanon said.
Oftentimes, patients must make the difficult decision to cut ties with family or friends because they can’t support them in their recovery.
“It’s hard cutting people off, especially when it’s a family member,” Shanon said. “You have to grieve the loss of that person in your life.”
That’s where the recovery community comes in.
Finding Connection and Building New Bonds
“It’s very important to have support,” Shanon said. “You need people to talk to who understand what you’re going through and what you have to deal with just to stay clean every day.”
“The quarantine has brought us closer together,” she said. “Having someone to vent to when you’re having a bad day is so important.”
As much as they’ve come to rely on each other, the women do look forward to the quarantine being lifted so they can reunite with loved ones and get back to work. They’re extremely grateful for the support they’ve been able to give and receive while they’ve dealt with two incredibly difficult situations at once—recovery and quarantine, but this was certainly an experience these women will always remember.
The GateHouse also offers a transitional recovery program for men at a separate location, as well as inpatient and outpatient treatment services for addiction. We would love to help you with the next step in your recovery. Reach out to us today!
Note: The GateHouse transitional housing residents, whose work schedule ranges from part-time to 50 hours per week, pay for their own food and rent. Insurance typically covers the rest.