To stay sober under normal circumstances is challenging, but in the face of COVID-19, it can be more difficult than ever. Isolation and loneliness contribute greatly to the development of addiction and relapse, and with shelter-in-place orders, the risks are growing. Much of recovery is focused on social support and networking to support sobriety, but as access to these resources changes, many people are facing new challenges. With fear and anxiety growing surrounding the spread of the coronavirus, many in sobriety are looking for new ways to manage triggers and cravings.
The Risk Factors for Relapse
Recovery is a life-long commitment and maintaining sobriety requires active work and risk factors for relapse may be exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although risk factors and triggers are always present even under normal circumstances, during this time, they may be more powerful than ever. Awareness about risk factors can help you prepare to address them when they arise. Some of the most common include:
- Being in the presence of substances: Depending on your living situation, you may find it impossible to avoid the presence of enablers. If others in your household use substances, it can be especially difficult to create a safe space away from it.
- Boredom: Without the ability to go out, many people are struggling with passing the time. Boredom can make it easy to fall back into patterns of substance abuse in order to pass the time.
- Fear and anxiety: COVID-19 is causing a great deal of uncertainty, fear, and worry. While these feelings are completely normal, these can also lead to the development of substance abuse. Substances are often used as a means of self-medication and coping.
- Loneliness: Feelings of loneliness are normal, but they may be strengthened by social distancing, especially for those who live alone. Much like coping with fear and anxiety, substances are often used to deal with feelings of isolation and loneliness as well.
Maintaining Your Sobriety
Although it may be difficult to access resources as you once did, there are still numerous ways you can connect and receive help. Practices in your everyday life and connecting with your support network can help you manage sobriety during this trying time. Limited access to the outside world may seem like a roadblock in recovery, but there are numerous ways to continue utilizing tools that support sobriety.
- Online support: Due to social distancing, many in-person support groups are no longer able to meet, but resources are still available. Many programs have moved to an online format or utilize phone calls to keep those in recovery engaged. Staying connected to your support network may look different now, but it is important to maintain. Reaching out to loved ones and others in recovery can help reduce feelings of isolation and allow you to continue to prioritize your sobriety.
- Maintain a routine: Boredom is a significant contributor to relapse. Many people are finding that they have much more time on their hands now and this can be a trigger for substance abuse. Filling your time with productive activities and maintaining a routine can keep boredom at bay. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, making time for self-care, and engaging in hobbies can help keep your mind and body busy.
- Try new things: Exploring new interests can be a helpful tool in recovery. Not only does it fill your time throughout the day, but it can help you feel fulfilled. Although this a stressful time, having more time at home can give you the opportunity to explore activities you may not have had the time before. Picking up a new book or starting an art project can be a meaningful activity that keeps your mind and body engaged.
- Reflect on your achievements: It can be easy to lose sight of your recovery even without the current climate in mind. Spending some time reflecting on your journey in recovery can help you maintain focus. Remember why you chose to get sober, what you want for yourself and your future, and how you have overcome many challenges already. Keeping perspective is useful in any scenario and may help prevent relapse.
While the current state of the world may feel overwhelming, keep in mind that it is temporary. Recovery is a life-long commitment and there will be challenges regardless of the pandemic. Continuing to surround yourself with as much normalcy as possible and engaging in positive activities can help you maintain focus. While you may not have control over what is happening in the world around you, you can control the choices you make during this time. Using this time to focus on your recovery can help strengthen your sobriety long-term.
If you’re struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol during this time, Nexus Recovery is still providing treatment while taking precautions to ensure the safety of our clients. For more information about how we can help, contact us today.