Staying connected is one of the most important facets of addiction recovery. In order to stay sober long-term, we must attend peer-lead meetings and support groups, share our experiences with others, talk to our sober support systems regularly – connection is key. Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, staying connected is more difficult than it ever was before. With “stay at home” orders in place, social distancing protocols and the closures of all non-essential businesses, it can be difficult to stay in the loop. There are many resources available, from hotlines to virtual Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and Facebook groups for those in recovery. Still, an abrupt and major change to your daily routine can feel overwhelming, and throw things off for you quite a bit. Maybe you had a group of friends that would drag you to the local meetinghouse every day, and you have been finding it difficult to self-motivate and hop on Zoom AA meetings without their support. Maybe being alone is a trigger for you, and rather than reach out for help you’ve been retreating and isolating more than you’d like – more than is healthy.
Fortunately, addiction recovery services like intensive outpatient treatment programs, partial hospitalization programs and inpatient addiction rehab are all considered essential, because maintaining sobriety is essential. If you are involved in an outpatient program or if you have been considering seeking treatment, there is no reason why you should stop pursuing your recovery. Of course, stay at home if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have come into contact with someone who is exhibiting symptoms or has been diagnosed – this goes without saying! If you have already completed addiction treatment and you rely on AA meetings and peer support, there are several things you can do in order to stay connected. Remember that addiction is a disease of isolation, and if you find yourself retreating from your program and failing to reach out, you may be inching closer towards a relapse. It is up to you to take the necessary steps to stay connected. If you are in need of additional resources or support, reach out to us at Intrepid Detox Residential, and we will help in any and every way that we can.
Ways to Stay Connected
Here are several ways to stay connected during these strange and trying times:
Call at least one member of your sober support system every day.
Make a list of reliable, sober friends that you know you can count on to pick up the phone. Maybe even assign a different person to each day. For example, let one of your friends know that they are your “Monday,” and that if you ever call them on a Monday it’s because you’re having a rough time or feeling lonely and need someone to talk to. Make sure that your sponsor is available to talk at any time!
Make your own meeting schedule and stick to it!
Sticking to a structured routine can be difficult when it’s completely up to you to enforce it. Practice self-discipline! Make a list of one meeting per day, and make sure that you tune in to that same meeting every week. If your homegroup is no longer available, find a new one. Explain to people in the meeting that you would appreciate being held accountable, especially if you don’t find yourself to be the most self-disciplined.
Prioritize your program of recovery.
During this stressful time, it is easy to forget your priorities and focus more on the things that are currently weighing on you, like your financial status or major changes to your career, and how to recover from those changes once the economy begins to reopen. Make sure that you are always prioritizing your recovery and focusing on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. If you don’t have your recovery intact, returning to your normal life once everything settles down will be far, far more difficult.
Find creative ways to give back to your community and consistently help others.
Learn how to sew face masks and donate some to your local hospital, or help those in need (the elderly or immunocompromised) obtain food and other supplies. There are many things you can do to continuously give back to your community and help others – and helping not only bolsters self-esteem and makes you feel better about your current circumstances, it will keep you busy!
Focus on the things you CAN control.
You can’t control what other people think, and you can’t control how other people act. But you can control your own behaviors, and you can choose to be positive and productive or negative and irritated. You can control the quality of your recovery.
Pay attention to your behavior.
Pay attention to your own personal relapse triggers and “red flags.” Make a list of behaviors that you want to avoid, like sleeping in until 3pm, watching 12 hours of television every day, or failing to answer phone calls from your loved ones. If you find yourself engaging in unhealthy behaviors, reach out as soon as possible and explain your current situation and your feelings to a trusted member of your support group.
Remember to keep things as light as possible.
It’s a scary time, but it’s important to maintain some sense of humor. This is certainly not something to be taken lightly, but always remember the importance of Rule 62!
It can be easy to fall into the “why me” mindset with everything that is going on. Many people are in the same boat as far as financial insecurity and other serious stressors. Maybe you got laid off and you haven’t been able to lock down your unemployment, or your landlord still expects rent and you find you have no way to pay it. Try to remember that ultimately, everything will be okay. It might not seem like it right now, but it will be. Remember that everyone is in this together and you are not alone. Try to focus your energy on the things you can control, and try to stay as grateful as possible. Rather than say to yourself, “God, this sucks. I won’t be able to pay my bills, I’m stuck inside, and everything is so screwed up,” try saying something like, “This is an inconvenience for everyone, but I have a lot of time to focus on myself and do the things that make me happy.” Take up painting, or read a new book, or spend more time outdoors. We will all get through this together, and the more positive and vigilant we are, the sooner we will be able to return to normal, day-to-day life.
If you feel you have been falling victim to isolation, or if you’re in a slump and you’re not sure how to pull yourself out of it, our team of addiction specialists is always available to help. We understand that while this is a difficult time for everyone, it is especially tumultuous for those who are new to recovery. Staying connected is essential, and we have a wide range of resources that we will gladly share with you, all you need to do is take a few minutes to reach out – we look forward to speaking with you soon!