Staying sober during the coronavirus outbreak


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — Social isolation is hard for most of us. People rely on social-interaction and need that sense of community to keep them on track.

Like those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. It may be hard right now to stay sober since society’s safety net is temporarily gone.

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Erich Karsner is 17 months sober.

This is what sobriety usually looks like for him:

“Going to meetings, communicating with my sponsor, just going to social gatherings,” says Erich Karsner, a recovering addict.

These are all things not possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a little bit different now. Mostly it’s Zoom meetings, basically all you can do. I’ve been talking to my sponsor over the phone,” says Karsner.

Karsner says thankfully for him, going virtual works. But for others, it may not be enough.

“People in early sobriety may be struggling with this. Human interaction is very important and I really believe going to AA meetings, seeing your friends, and your sponsor and just interacting with other people is very important,” says Karsner.

The Hope Center says this is a hard time for some of the people living in its emergency shelters.

“So, we do see some of our clients who are struggling and also missing family because they’re used to being able to see them,” explains Carrie Thayer with the Hope Center.

That’s why it’s now offering virtual alcoholics-anonymous and narcotics-anonymous meetings.

Clients sit six feet apart and view the meeting on a projector screen.

“They’re still hearing the same message and getting the same support,” says Thayer.

The only way it isn’t what they’re used to is because there are now fewer people in the meeting rooms to practice social distancing.

“Quantrell Auto Group did donate six laptop computers which are needed to make this possible and also Voices of Hope has been a really great partner in making the virtual meetings and speakers possible,” says Thayer.

The Hope Center and Karsner want those in recovery to know there are resources available.

Karsner says this difficult time will test you but don’t let it break you.

“In recovery there are setbacks but you just gotta push through ’em. This is just really to show how strong someone can be to stay sober,” says Karsner.

Below are the links the Hope Center is using for its virtual meetings:

The Hope Center could use two additional laptops for recovery and telehealth. If interested in donating, contact Carrie Thayer at or 859-509-7110.

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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at