We Have an Issue: Redefining Distancing

How Austin’s recovery community is adapting to COVID-19

Illustration by Jason Stout

If you tried to access our website over the weekend, chances are you were greeted with an "uh-oh!" message. Our web host experienced a catastrophic server failure that knocked us offline all day Sunday and a good chunk of Monday, too. There wasn't much we could do but sit on our hands and wait for a fix, which isn't the ideal state for a control freak like me.

...grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...

The Serenity Prayer is something most of us know by osmosis, even if we've never attended an AA meeting. Here's the whole thing, or at least the most commonly used form of it: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. That's a sound approach in the best of times – a fine plan for pragmatic living in three steps – and especially handy during a pandemic, when so much is out of our control.

I quit drinking about 10 months ago. Not in an especially dramatic fashion: I was just done. (To be fair, that was after many, many years of thinking I should be done, but not having the guts to get around to well and truly being done.) During this COVID-19-mandated bout of intense isolation and anxiety, I've occasionally thought how much I "could use" a drink – writing this column, for instance, sure would be a lot more fun with a bourbon and a cigarette. But far more often I've thought: How glad I am I quit when I did. That I spent all those months getting strong, forging healthier ways to manage stress and not spiral out in anger or sadness. Those are useful tools right now.

For a lot of people who've struggled with substance abuse, their regular, most reliable tools have been compromised or canceled, like in-person support groups and the comforting touch of someone who knows first-hand the struggle. Still, in their absence, new means of support spring up. In this week's cover story, staff writer Austin Sanders looks into the ways Austin's recovery community is adapting to the challenges of COVID-19 – and that's including how we talk about it. As one person Austin spoke to puts it, it's important to reframe what we're doing not as social distancing but physical distancing. Physically, we're apart; socially, we can still be there for each other. Whether you're sober or cheerfully tippling your way through the apocalypse, that's worth remembering.

Online This Week

The Future (For Now) of Live Music? In a South Austin field with a pirate radio signal, a handful of musicians (including Chronicle muckraker Kevin Curtin and Gary Lindsey, pictured above) pulled off a drive-in theatre-style concert last week. Doug Freeman recaps the night.

This Is Who We Are: While most live, in-person performances are put on pause, Arts Editor Robert Faires has been revisiting favorite past works that "affirm our creative force" including the Miró Quartet's ambitious Faces of America two-concert program and Sally Jacques' The Well Inside, a site-specific dance swinging 20 feet in the air at Austin Studios' former airplane hangar.

Calls for Fresh Ginger Knobs: Healthy eating mecca Vinaigrette shares their recipe for a turmeric-and-ginger drink that you can punch up even further with their "crazy ginger syrup." Find that recipe and dozens more at Chronicle Cooking.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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