Shireen Janti, MusiCares
Recovery & Sobriety During Quarantine: Online Meetings Become Game-Changing
No doubt, everyone affiliated with music is dealing with some sort of challenge due to the coronavirus crisis. For people in recovery from alcohol or substance abuse, the new normal adjustment is two-fold.
In addition to the tireless work MusiCares is doing to help music professionals affected by the economic fallout of the COVID-19, the organization continues its recovery support for music people battling addiction. We called up MusiCares' Senior Director of Health & Human Services, Shireen Janti, a licensed counselor with 30 years sober herself, to get a deeper understanding of the challenges people in recovery are facing during social distancing as well as the support resources available.
Meetings Go Online, With Great Results
Since people have been staying at home to flatten the curve, many business meetings and social gatherings have moved to video conference services like Zoom. Janti told us Zoom has worked wonders in expanding the reach of MusiCares' support groups from limited, in-person gatherings to open, online meetings.
"There are currently Zoom meetings happening with people in recovery all over the world. You can sign into a Zoom meeting anywhere in the United States or any country that you wish. said Janti. "Recovery zoom meetings have exploded in such a way that has made it so easy to hop on and attend. It has been magnificent, and the fellowship of people coming together, sharing their stories, struggles and strengths has been heartwarming, supportive and helpful."
"There are MusiCares clients and other people in recovery going to a meeting every day now, when they used to go maybe once a week or twice a month."
Before the coronavirus crisis, MusiCares held meetings in five cities across the U.S. that have all been turned into Zoom meetings, giving people in recovery everywhere a new resource for support and connection. Without major-city traffic or busy scheduling challenges, the barrier for entry has dropped, and the improvement in support meeting engagement has been significant.
"I've gotten feedback from many of our facilitators and clients who are tapping into the meetings, and they swear by it. They're so grateful," said Janti. "There are MusiCares clients and other people in recovery going to a meeting every day now, where they used to go maybe once a week or twice a month. They're even going up to three times a day because they're not having to commute in traffic. They just get to tap in."
The best part about joining a zoom support meeting is how easy it is for anyone to do, regardless of technical expertise (or lack thereof).
"I think for a lot of people, unless you're a millennial and younger or just do this stuff, anything new or different is scary, even if it's simple. I used to hear that Zoom really scared people because they're not technically savvy or they haven't used it before." she said. "Fear blocks us, fear prevents us from sometimes doing things that are good for us. Once people have figured it out, they say, 'Oh this isn't so bad.' You do it once or twice, and you're a pro. And I think it's like that with many things in life."
Interested in the MusiCares support meetings? Visit musicares.org for more info.
— MusiCares (@MusiCares) April 3, 2020
Being Of Service To Others
"Even in quarantine, you can pick up the phone and call people. There's no better way to heal your soul and your heart than reaching out to others. It's not even just people in recovery, it's all of us," said Janti. "The truth is, we all need to be in a form of recovery right now with what's going on in the world. Connecting with people really helps put everything in perspective, and, if not to be grateful, to at least know you're not alone, and we're in this together."
Janti tells us being of service to others can be an extremely powerful way to stay connected and on-track with sobriety. As isolation continues to shape most people's days during the coronavirus crisis, feeling cutoff from the world can be very dangerous, especially for people in recovery,
"Connecting with people really helps put everything in perspective… The best way to get out of yourself is to pick up the phone or write a letter."
"For a lot of people who are alcoholics and addicts, loneliness can lead you to a very dark place. That's why Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous, along with all the 12-step programs, work because it's a fellowship of people who come together to support each other and let them know they're not alone anymore."
As dangerous as loneliness can be for an addict, the solve can sometimes be as simple as helping someone else, which can change that person's life, turning the two-fold challenge of recovery during quarantine into a win-win.
"The most powerful thing is being of service to others," she concluded. "When we're in our own stuff, the best way to get out of yourself is to pick up the phone, write a letter or even just send a text to someone reaching out to them."
Creativity Can Heal
The spark of inspiration that ignites music people's passion to work doing what they love can also, sadly, be the first to blow out in a crisis. While in quarantine and in recovery, you can reconnect with your creativity – or even just get outside of your immediate space and routine – to clear your head and redirect negative energy.
"We've also been talking about people just tapping into their creative side that has been dormant," said Janti. "Playing music, making art, sharing books and stories, reading, writing poetry, whatever they do creatively can make a big difference in their recovery."
Janti also recommended getting out of the house, safely of course, for a daily dose of fresh air and inspiration.
"There's been some beautiful sunny days [here in L.A.] and now, even in quarantine you can go take a walk, whether it's walking your dogs or by yourself, or riding your bike, as long as you are safe and keep proper distance," she said.
— Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (@RecordingAcad) April 2, 2020
In her own life during quarantine, Janti has turned to listening to music, gardening and creating magical spaces at home. As someone in recovery herself as well as on the frontlines of the addiction recovery support that MusiCares offers every day, Janti can't speak highly enough of the opportunities available to stay connected and healthy together.
"For me, like anybody else who's going through these challenging times, I've had my ups and downs of fear, the unknown, sadness," she said. "But through, all this there's going to be a huge shift and change that takes place. We don't know what that will look like… but the two things I would say are most important during recovery are being of service to others and definitely start tapping into Zoom meetings, because they really work."
If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit: musicares.org.
If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, visit: https://www.grammy.com/MusiCares/CoronavirusReliefFund