Ventura County’s alcoholics are getting a positive boost to recovery, thanks in part to a new online support venture.
Tribeof9.org is a website on which users create an anonymous online identity and are then put into groups with eight other recovering or current alcoholics. From within a private chat room, members can offer support and counseling sans meeting face to face, a benefit for some who have avoided seeking help from more traditional outlets.
Chuck Farley is one of the co-founders of Tribeof9. Along with his partners, one of whom is a business and life coach, Farley launched Tribeof9.org from his base in San Diego.
“We used our team strengths to build a resource for people to use and get a different perspective,” said Farley. “Not everyone is ready to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.”
In the most recent study from the California Alcohol and Drug Programs based on data gathered for the years 2000 through 2008, Ventura County has seen a small decrease in admissions to alcohol and drug programs, down from 465 per 100,000 to 405 per 100,000, but according to Farley, this is on par with what’s happening nationally.
“Nationally, 30 percent of all people have some sort of issue with alcohol,” said Farley. “More than likely, you know someone dealing with these issues.”
Ventura County has several programs available for alcoholics, either private or locally funded. Alcoholics Anonymous, the organization famous for its 12-step program of recovery, is the largest presence in the county.
“You can’t hear someone’s voice inflection over the Internet,” said an operator at the Alcoholics Anonymous hotline, who chose to remain anonymous and prefers the more traditional physical presence of an AA meeting. “For someone in a rural area, that might be another option, but when you’re online, you don’t know who the heck you’re talking to.”
Aurora Vista Del Mar Behavioral Health Care in Ventura is a psychiatric hospital specializing in stabilization and safety during the detoxification process. For Case Manager Wendy Cardone, having many options when it comes to support is ideal.
“Anything that helps people to connect is good, but at the same time I want to make sure there are precautions put in place,” said Cardone, who is also a licensed marriage and family counselor. Her concern rests in the detoxification process that could result in life-threatening seizures for those addicted to alcohol.
“Alcohol is still one of the deadliest to quit,” said Cardone. “It would be really important to know the quantities being consumed and if they [the patients] are being honest. I guess in an online setting, I don’t know if they would be or not.”
Cardone agrees that using multiple resources is the best bet for those seeking assistance.
“Any group is good for people recovering, because they feel an instant bond with those dealing with the same issues,” said Cardone.
For Farley, treatment and support are two different things, and Tribeof9 is strictly about offering support for those to whom privacy is a concern.
“It’s up to the user to try and seek help,” said Farley. “We’re not claiming we have the answer, it’s just a space where people talk and can find some help. It’s really just providing a space for conversation.”
For more information, visit www.tribeof9.org.