File Photo.

Sylvan Lake support groups cancel in-person meetings

AA and TOPS will continue to offer support online and by phone during outbreak

As social distancing becomes more imperative, groups continue to cancel meetings to do their share in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Much like schools, sport teams and daycares, people are unable to attend support group meetings for the time being.

“I think it’s a tough time all around for everybody, whether it’s financial, or emotional, or whatever,” said Debbie, a member of a local Alcoholics Anonymous group, in a phone interview.

“I don’t think you can pick out a group of people that isn’t tough right now,” she added.

The last in-person AA meeting held March 17 in Sylvan Lake saw dwindled numbers as attendees sat three chairs apart to keep their distance.

Despite being unable to host future meetings, the group is going to try and keep up the support as much as possible.

Online group meetings and resources are accessible to those in need, as well as phone connections, although Debbie says nothing substitutes for sitting in a room together.

“I think it’s going to make it hard for people, but I guess it forces people to reach out more,” she explained.

“It’s always hard for us to pick up the phone and ask for help, because everybody figures somewhere in their mind, that we should be able to do this on our own, and that’s not how it works.”

When a newly sober person signs up, they are provided with a meeting list, along with several telephone numbers, so there is always the ability to contact someone, she said.

Those who wish to use online options or contacts, can find them on area78.org and aa.org.

“I would just encourage people in this time, and anytime, to use the phone to reach out,” said Debbie.

Other support groups, such as TOPS, are also facing cancelled meetings.

Currently, Sylvan Lake meetings are cancelled until April 12 and the situation will be reassessed then.

Those looking for support can access the TOPS website or TOPS Canada on Facebook.

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