It’s one of those things you never think to do until you have to. Our graduates have always had an insular group meeting on the Oasis campus weekly. That changed when COVID-19 forced us to tighten our social circle to reduce spread. I could write about all the negatives in the recovery world — and there are a lot of negatives— but one of the positive outcomes of a worldwide pandemic was seeing the alumni group form tighter bonds instead of isolating.
I’m not going to get on here and say online video chat is a perfect replacement for in-person meetings. But after the pandemic hit, the recovery world persisted the same way it always has: through shared experience and fraternity. After our pivot in March, the Alumni Association set up video chat. Four months in, I’m checking the math: compared with the last two years, our post-COVID alumni attendance nearly quadrupled. Or, in more flattering terms, you could say it rose by an additional 269%.
On top of this, our alumni are all self-organized. No oversight from Oasis needed. Oasis scrambled to get video conferencing onsite just to plug back in with the Alumni Association. It’s an important relationship: current rehab residents meet previous residents during these meetings which begin the connections, sponsors, and accountability. It’s a self-sustaining cycle. The group calls on everyone after their one-year sobriety date to speak about their story. I’d share those moments with you, and I’d share the names of those who have made this such a special group… but I can’t;
like every good recovery group, they’re anonymous.
Stay tuned for more updates on our alumni. Recovery work has been set back by the limitations the pandemic has caused. It's no surprise that isolation and substance abuse relapse goes hand in hand. And it's no surprise that those with substance abuse disorders are more vulnerable to COVID-19 if they relapse. There's still a lot of work to be done.