The COVID19 epidemic has brought about massive changes for most of the world. Lockdown orders, self-isolation, and increasingly vast numbers of patients sick with the virus have literally brought the world to a standstill. This has resulted in increased isolation, more free time, and in some cases, a complete stop to normal life. Anyone working a “non-essential” job is likely at home, and people working in “essential” jobs are facing more stress, pressure, and demand than ever before. This results in stress for healthy people, but for those of us struggling with a substance use disorder, it puts us at risk of a relapse.
If you’re in recovery, it’s critical to take steps to prevent relapse. This can mean taking extra precautions, practicing more discipline, and potentially carefully planning how you spend your days.
Seek Out Human Contact
Covid19 means that many of us can’t afford to be truly social, we should stay at home, and we shouldn’t go out to meet people or take part in events and activities. How do you remain social when doing so could actively harm others?
Seeking out virtual human contact is one, albeit imperfect, solution. Participating in daily video calls with friends and family or your sober group may help to alleviate loneliness, because you are sharing time. Here, it may be ideal to also share activities such as movies, cleaning up, or reading books, so that you’re still sharing activities.
If you’re completely on your own, consider rooming with or sharing your home with a friend or family member for the period. This allows you to interact with people on a daily basis with minimal risk to them or to others.
If you’re recently out of recovery, you may also want to consider moving into a sober living home. While not all will remain open, and some may require you to quarantine for 2 weeks before participating with the group. Sober living homes are a solution that will allow you to participate in a single, closed group. Importantly, not every state allows Sober Homes to continue accepting new people.
Check Online Support
Dozens of organizations have shifted meetings and counseling to online sessions, delivering contact and support via Skype, Zoom, and other virtual meetings. Some groups which have moved online include:
- Alcoholics Anonymous – Official online meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous. You may have to join your local group as a guest to participate.
- Daily Strength – A daily social community centered on offering support for specific disorders and challenges.
- For Like Minds – A mental health support network offering group communities and video calls centered on themed topics.
- Narcotics Anonymous – Official Narcotics Anonymous meetings, plus 24/7 chat support
- Support Groups Central – Non-affiliated support groups on a variety of topics, including substance use disorders.
- 7 Cups – A service designed to connect applicants to trained volunteers for support and counseling.
- Smart Recovery – Science-based non-theistic recover meetings. You may have to join a local group to participate in meetings.
While online meetings do not fully replace face-to-face support, they offer the opportunity to share your struggle with people who know what you’re going through. They also offer social connection, the opportunity to create social accountability, and a meaningful way to share.
Importantly, many therapists and counselors are also offering virtual sessions, and you should apply and attempt to join one if you feel that you are struggling.
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Manage Your Time
It’s important to manage your time so that you have a reasonable schedule, plenty to do, goals, and free time to relax and destress. This will present different challenges depending on how you’re weathering quarantine. Persons who are working from home have to ensure that schedules allow for work, motivating work at home, and taking care of their home and life. Persons who are essential workers must manage extra stress. If you have kids and suddenly find yourself taking on the brunt of daycare and home schooling, you’ll likely be short on time as well. Making time to set aside for yourself and your own mental health is important.
If you’re on the other end of the spectrum with a sudden rash of free time, it’s equally important to fill those time slots. It’s a good idea to take some time to destress and to acknowledge that you are in the middle of a crisis, being productive isn’t necessarily the goal, and that you have a right to be stressed and upset. On the other hand, it’s also important to keep moving and to give yourself a continued sense of purpose. Try to maintain hobbies, maintain exercise, and spend as much or more time cooking, cleaning, and taking care of yourself as you normally would. You may also want to try filling your normal work hours activities that move you towards goals, or which allow you to focus on a goal. For example, you may want to take an online course, learn a new hobby, take up a home improvement project, etc. While additions to your daily schedule must be something you’re interested in and motivated to do, it’s important to keep up your routine and schedule as much as possible, including “work” items that require focus and discipline.
Stay Aware of Triggers
Most recovering addicts are well aware of triggers, and isolation is often a trigger. We want to drink or use when we feel isolated, alone, bored, anxious, stressed, fearful, uncertain, and when financial uncertainty becomes a major part of our lives. A global pandemic is going to cause many of those emotions. You may be grieving friends and loved ones, lost opportunities, the thousands of people losing their lives. This is natural and normal; you have to allow yourself space to be stressed and upset, but you, more than most people, must manage it in a healthy way.
Consider how you can best manage triggers, how you can best respond when you feel cravings, and how you will hold yourself accountable.
Millions of people are drinking more and using drugs more often, because they are stressed, upset, and facing uncertainty. Persons in recovery are more at risk than anyone, because they’re already vulnerable to relapse, face cravings, and face the same issues that made them vulnerable to addiction in the first place. If you or a loved one is struggling with staying clean and sober during the pandemic, you may be able to get help and you may be able to move into residential rehab.
If you have any questions concerning addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Truvida Recovery. Call 877-228-1102 to speak in confidence with an experienced treatment advisor now.