These are hard times. These are times when you question your own safety, despite the measures that you have taken to protect yourself and your family. We are fighting an invisible enemy and no one knows how long this will last. Unfortunately, the stay-at-home and quarantine measures have led to many therapists, healthcare providers, and peer support groups to move to online services, or even postpone providing services indefinitely. Other resources have become more and more difficult to access, and the nature of isolation has left many recovering addicts feeling lost and anxious. In this article, we will discuss ways in which you can continue to be successful in your recovery journey during a crisis like this.
How It Feels During Quarantine
The world is an uncertain place right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s left many recovering addicts feeling anxious, isolated, and afraid for the future. Due to recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people have been taking shelter in their homes to minimize the risk of spreading the disease.
Unfortunately, being at home pretty much all day long isn’t ideal for those in recovery. Getting out, staying connected, and staying busy helps stave off cravings and keep us sober. Not to mention that sticking to a routine provides much-needed structure that doesn’t leave room for returning to drugs and alcohol. Now, our routines have been shaken up and we have much more idle time on our hands, which can be dangerous for those who have previously struggled with addiction. Isolation can make us feel lonely, and is making room for depressive and anxious thoughts to creep in as well. Being in quarantine opens us all up to mental health struggles.
What to Do During Quarantine
Since coronavirus was declared pandemic, countries, cities and towns have adopted mandatory social distancing and even full-on stay-at-home orders, urging people to go on self-isolation under quarantine. Because of that, many have had to temporarily stop working, going to school, and cut travels short to return to their area of residence. For recovering addicts, this means that scheduled meetings with your support groups and therapists are likely also halted. But thank goodness for technology, even meetings with support groups are now possible. So, what can you do during quarantine? Here’s some helpful tips:
Stay connected with people no matter what
As a recovering addict, it is not ideal to be alone. It might be difficult, but you must keep in touch with people so that you do not lose contact with your support system. Thanks to the internet, you can still meet up with your group on video calls and share your experiences and struggles in quarantine. It is also a good way to destress and unload your worries or anxieties while on lockdown. Your support group can help you work through these feelings. There are also a lot of forums, group chats, and online meetings that you could join too. You should also find time to chat with family members and friends to check up on how they’re doing. If you aren’t aware already, ask your therapist if they are offering phone or video calls in place of in-person sessions. Staying connected with people during quarantine is a must. It’s not only good for you, but for other people who love and support you.
Try to avoid relapse
Researchers have estimated that up to 80% of people who find long-term sobriety relapse at least once along the way. And with the situation we are all in right now, many of the causes of relapse have increased in our lives tenfold. During a global or national crisis, it is crucial to recognize the signs that you may be headed for a relapse so you can do what needs to be done to stop it from creeping up on you. High stress is one of the leading causes of addiction, as there is a strong relationship between the two. Experiencing stress in one’s life is completely normal and even healthy, but too much stress can become overwhelming and too much for one person to handle. In the throes of a global crisis, stress levels are through the roof. Because of this, learning how to manage stress is paramount.
If you find yourself experiencing high levels of stress, changes in attitude or mood, random recurrences of withdrawal symptoms, behavior changes, decline in socialization, poor judgment or decision-making, or thinking about going back to using drugs or alcohol, these may be signs of an impending relapse. If you are experiencing any of these, we urge you to reach out to someone immediately. The longer you let these feelings linger, the more susceptible you will become to relapsing.
Create a new routine
Routine is very important in the life of a recovering addict. Sticking to a schedule can create much-needed stability and a sense of purpose for people. Unfortunately, most people’s routines have been completely upset by the stay-at-home orders. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make a new one! Create a new day-to-day routine that feels productive and offers you a sense of accomplishment. Don’t forget to incorporate exercise, time for socialization, and your hobbies!
It’s important that you fill your day up with productive and enjoyable activities to avoid boredom and idle time. Boredom can be dangerous. And the longer you sit alone with your thoughts, the risk of negativity seeping into your thoughts will rise. Eight Row chef and recovered addict David Nichols had this to say in an article in the Seattle Eater: “The challenges of feeling isolated are daunting, especially for addicts. The times when my drinking was at its worst, I wouldn’t go out to bars — it was me drinking alone in my apartment. The addict in me was at its best when alone, because no one was around to question it or offer some kind of distraction from it, and I could continue to drink uninhibited, slipping deeper into despair and self-loathing.” This is true for many addicts, which is why it is important that you stay connected to others and to doing things that keep your mind busy in a healthy way.
Just because we have been advised to avoid public gatherings, events, and groups, doesn’t mean the outdoors are off limits! In fact, getting outside and staying active has been encouraged by many of our world leaders, as it can help keep us sane and happy. Exercise and physical activity boosts endorphins to make us feel good and eliminate stress. You don’t have to do anything too crazy at first, just adding a handful of brisk 30-minute walks into your weekly routine will be a huge benefit to your mental and physical well-being. You can slowly increase your activity as you feel stronger and more motivated. This will also help you develop more structure in your new daily and weekly routines.
Eating well is also important, if not more important than exercising. A lot of people have found themselves bored at home, and as a result may turn to constant snacking just to give them something to do! However, this isn’t the best for our health. What we eat has a huge impact on not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. Eating fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, plenty of protein, and generally focusing on consuming a whole food, combined with cutting out sugar and processed foods is one of the best things you can do to begin healing yourself from within.
Hang in There
This is a really tough time for everyone, but especially those in recovery. Recovering from an addiction is difficult enough, let alone trying to maintain sobriety during a global crisis such as this one. However, don’t lose sight of how far you’ve come in your recovery journey. Odds are, you’ve been through a lot, and you’ve come out stronger every time. This is no exception, you got this. Hang in there, we will get through this as a sober community! Most trusted and accredited drug rehabs have opened or expanded their Telehealth services for substance abuse programs. Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona’s leading drug rehab provider since 2008, has expanded Telehealth business by 75% and are helping hundreds of quarantined clients at this time. Go to https://scottsdalerecovery.com/telehealth-for-addiction-treatment/ for more details.
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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.