Even in ideal circumstances, addiction recovery can be difficult. Add a pandemic into the mix, and things can start to feel overwhelming. Addiction treatment during COVID is difficult at best. For people in recovery or those who live with addiction, stressful times like these can lead to relapse or increases in substance use and misuse. You may be feeling more isolated than usual, out of funk with your routine, and feeling the pressure to use again. But it’s important to keep in mind that it is natural to feel stressed and uncertain. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
Here are some common relapse triggers for addiction taking place during COVID-19:
Fear is a major cause of ongoing active addiction, but fears (both rational and irrational) may be more prevalent or more intense now due to the coronavirus. Addiction treatment during COVID means having to relearn what fear is, and how we can tackle it head-on. There is a lot taking place right now that we don’t know, we don’t understand, and can scare us. Information is being disseminated and processed at a rapid pace. Fear of the known and the unknown is in our faces every day, so we must guard against it.
Isolation (and loneliness) are often triggers from relapse into active addiction. Studies consistently show us that people who are isolated socially tend towards mental health issues and are more likely to abuse substances. In many cases, this becomes a self-reinforcing loop; we turn to substances, we feel anxiety, depression and loneliness, and we feel lonely because we feel we must privately live with the shame of our problematic drug and alcohol use or addiction.
Dealing with addiction treatment during COVID everyone is cut off from friends and family. Endlessly watching the news on television. Lack of connection. These things often are at the heart of addiction, and these issues are often more intense now for many people due to COVID-19.
Stress is a big trigger from active addiction. It is overwhelming. It causes fear. It makes people feel uncomfortable and out of control. And there is a lot of ongoing stress taking place now. Stressful life events combined with poor coping skills may impact the risk of addiction by increasing impulsive responding and self-medication. While it may not be possible to eliminate stress, we need to find ways to manage it.Many people feel like they can’t breathe, and for those dealing with addiction treatment during COVID, that often makes them turn to drugs and alcohol for relief.
Many people, once finding sobriety and living sober, don’t quite know how to find things to enjoy in early recovery. It is a process they must go through, but it is very difficult to do in the present circumstances due to COVID-19. People are quarantined, stuck at home, unable to see family and friends, or engage in many activities they enjoy.
What Can you do to Help Your Addiction Treatment During COVID?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.
Take a look at some tips for managing addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Find ways to stay connected
Avoiding isolation is the best coping mechanism, but it won’t be helpful when battling addiction treatment during COVID. Make a phone or video appointment to talk with your sponsor, counselor, or therapist; reach out to family and friends for support and connection; or find virtual group meetings to attend. “My patients have good feedback about virtual communities such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Sober Grid, and Sober Nation, which can link you with various kinds of virtual support,” said Dr. Grawert from Kaiser Permanente.
Keep up with your routines
Pretty much everyone is trying to find some kind of routine right now, but it’s especially important for folks in recovery. Chances are, a lot of elements of your pre-pandemic routine are off-limits right now. Follow the same routines that were helpful to you before COVID-19 or find replacements for activities that aren’t possible right now. Develop a consistent schedule you can follow every day. Find time to take a walk, do a virtual workout, cook your meals, or pursue a hobby that keeps you happy and engaged.
Trust those who know you best
If friends, family members, or trusted colleagues who care about you say they’re worried, pay attention. For people who don’t live together, make sure you’re touching base more often than you normally would, whether it’s by phone, video call or in person while following proper physical—but not emotional—distancing during the pandemic. Let them know you’re there for them and that you care. Let them know if you feel you are struggling with your recovery, and that you may need extra care.
Ask for help & dont give up
It’s important to understand everyone is dealing with the stress and anxiety of the current situation. Addiction treatment during COVID requires you to ask for help when you need it. If you notice that boredom or stress is leading to more thoughts about or cravings for alcohol or drugs, tell someone you trust, or reach out to your mental health provider. Reminding yourself why you choose recovery can help.
Maybe your relationships have never been better thanks to the work you’ve been putting in. Or perhaps you’re feeling physically better than you ever thought you could.
Whatever your reasons, keeping them in mind can help. List them off mentally, or try writing them down and leaving them somewhere you’ll see them each day. Visual reminders can be a powerful tool.
Addiction thrives on secrecy and loves to catch people off-guard. It can progress quickly, especially during COVID-19 social isolation. If you’re dealing with strong cravings or relapse, contact your provider immediately and, if possible, include your family or close friend. Ask about medication to treat your symptoms, a plan for refills, and also ask about options such as urgent or emergency services, as well as the risks of going to the local emergency department.
Remember: This pandemic won’t last forever
It might feel especially challenging to maintain recovery when your process involves things that are currently on hold — whether that’s work, spending time with loved ones, or hitting the gym.
This disruption is unsettling and frightening. But it’s temporary. It might be hard to imagine right now, but there will be a point when things will start to feel normal again. Continuing the effort you’ve already put into recovery will make it easier for you to jump back into the swing of things once this storm passes.
Addiction Treatment During Covid with Daylight Recovery Center
When people are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction or substance use disorder it’s essential to have a community and accountability. But those can be hard to come by during a time of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, when people can’t gather for regular Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Sadness, fear, anger, frustration and stress can lead to relapse.
And isolation can make addictive behaviors worse. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient. If you’re in a treatment program, engaging more substantially will provide you with even greater protection. If you have a history of mental illness or substance abuse, take advantage of any prior resources to help you through this stressful time
Our services include safe detoxification from alcohol and drugs in a luxury detox and residential facility, custom designed intensive outpatient programs, and resources for long-term support. We welcome the chance to serve you. Contact one of our counselors now, or learn more about us online.