The word "disease" as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary, is: a condition of an organism that impairs physiological functioning, resulting from causes such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress. From this definition, one can assume addiction is a disease. Of course, there are plenty of people who claim addiction is a choice. I'm pretty sure anyone who's ever tried marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, etc., didn't start off choosing to be an addict. Using is just a symptom; the most obvious one. However, after the drugs are removed, an addict is left with the same thinking and behavior.
Something is just not right with people who continue using in spite of negative consequences. Hence, the malady described in the dictionary. Trauma is usually an indicator why someone would continue using after suffering from a series of adverse situations in their life, and the lives of those around them. This can cause guilt, remorse, self-pity, etc. All of which can can lead to hopelessness, despair, isolation and, usually, most likely, back to using.
It may be true that using is a choice, but the conditions of the addict's mind are not. I could go on and on with credible sources to validate this assertion, coupled with personal experience, but at the end of the day, people choose to believe what they do, despite being exposed to valid info challenging their world view. Cognitive dissonance is often too powerful to be broken. The years of conditioning and indoctrination, along with ignorance in a particular area, and the refusal to investigate claims without bias or prejudice is not always worth the effort to engage.
The point of this post, is that with so much environmental turmoil around the globe right now, i.e.; government lockdowns and mandates, fear mongering, the intentional stoking of discord and division, the last thing an addict needs is to be isolated from humanity. Although massive lots of institutions have stopped allowing recovery meetings from taking place, scores of recovering addicts have become resourceful at maintaining their basic connection to one another through avenues such as Zoom. Many have called this a savior for 12 Step fellowships. It's allowed them to continue hearing and sharing a message of hope, as well as sharing solutions to and experience with mutual struggles.
However, many have lost the connection to others, in spite of this resource. For them, it was more than just hearing/sharing a message. It was the bonding that took place from the hugs before and after meetings. It happened when they learned how to become a part of society by attending recovery functions, going to diners for coffee afterward, or just gathering to eat at the local Applebee's. Access to the human connection required for sustained recovery happens when "keep coming back/stay" allows you to do just that.
For many, like myself, the physical live meetings are about atmosphere. Zoom meetings were a bare minimum, and didn't provide the connection necessary for their personal recovery. It weighed heavy. And that type of situation allows old ways of thinking to creep in. Addiction is patient. It's insidious. Isolation to an addict is William Hurt talking to Kevin Costner from the back seat of his car with a smooth voice in the movie "Mr. Brooks". If you've seen the movie, you know how chilling that can be. How tempting.
Vigilance is an important principle, but without the ability to connect on a deeper level due to outside forces using fear and manipulation, isolation starts to infect the mind and spirit. Soon, the body follows. That's dangerous territory for someone in recovery. We do have a choice once we find recovery; to stay connected by any means necessary. What we don't have a choice about is how sick the mind is because of the trauma suffered prior to using, during active addiction and well into the process of recovery. It can convince us there is no hope, so why not just take the edge off a little. Recovery is like anything in life; it needs to be fed with consistency, or it suffers. Often, that suffering is fatal.
With local, national and world governments all scrambling to grab more power in the name of public safety, it's going to be up to the addicts who need that personal connection to find ways of lifting each other up and keeping the isolation from taking hold. Isolation is a tactic for torture. Get the person alone and they're vulnerable for attack. The last thing a recovering addict needs is to⁴ be left in a situation that allows them to torture themselves into using, which can only bring more pain to themselves and to those who love them. There's enough pain in the world right now. We owe it to ourselves, and to others to find a higher level of freedom. Addicts just getting clean need us, and recovery, now more than ever.
One of the ways to do this is to hold small gatherings at the homes of those who are willing to open them up. Another is to hold outdoor gatherings (weather permitting), as some have done, to make yourselves available for those who find it more beneficial than Zoom. Reach out. I know I struggled myself when meetings were shut down. When I learned there were addicts gathering outside, it allowed me to start the break from the isolation and self-destructive thinking that would eventually lead to destructive behavior. The choice to participate was mine to make. The thinking, however was not. Past experience led me to make the right choice, in spite of the disease between my ears. Some aren't, and haven't been, as fortunate. We didn't get clean to allow our lives to be dictated, planned, or controlled by anyone or anything, shitty thinking included, but ourselves, with guidance from predecessors and principles.