Pandemic Putting Recovery At Risk
This pandemic has changed everything from schools, jobs, going to the supermarket, and especially recovery. COVID-19 has taken the reigns of our daily lives and changed, well, pretty much everything. As we have learned more and more about this disease changes that had been made have changed again. All these changes have happened so quickly, but that does not mean we have to give up the things we love, and need, to do. We just need to adjust.
Adjusting to a New World
Unfortunately, with how COVID-19 spreads it requires us to quarantine, stay 6 feet apart everywhere we go, and isolate ourselves. The changes we have had to make have made it difficult to do everyday things that we love or need to do. With how quickly this disease has spread it is obvious that we need to put as much space between each other as possible. This, however, does not mean we need to wallow in loneliness. It means we need to get a bit creative.
The stay at home order has made it harder to connect with one another, but you are not alone in this. Making adjustments to this pandemic has been difficult, but as each day passes we are figuring out different ways to stay in touch with family and friends, helping each other get daily tasks done more efficiently, and becoming more resourceful. For example, neighbors putting their grocery lists together so only one trip to the supermarket needs to be made, not two. The longer the stay at home order has been in effect, it seems the more we have begun to help each other.
According to a study put together by Public Health, social isolation can lead to poorer mental health and can affect the cardiovascular system. Also, with the stress and anxiety of catching the virus itself will put strain on your mental health, as well. We are facing challenges we have never had to before. If you are feeling alone or scared right now- remember you are not the only one. We are social beings. Humans are meant to interact with each other. People in recovery are facing challenges that affect the basics of recovery. Being in recovery means you are a part of a community. There is a shared common goal with millions of others to live happier and healthier lives.
Things We CAN Do
We have been told, at length, all the things NOT to do. Do not travel if not necessary. Stay 6 feet away from the person in front and behind you. Abide the stay at home order. These are important because we need to slow down the rapid spread of COVID-19. But, the things we can do are just as important. We need to keep our minds healthy, too. What COVID-19 and addiction have in common is isolation.
For addicts and alcoholics this is extremely dangerous. Being alone while struggling is the most dangerous time for an addict or alcoholic. It is one situation that most will not win. “We consider addiction a disease of isolation,” says Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “Now we’re isolating all these people and expecting them to pick up the phone, get on line, that sort of thing…” COVID-19 has had a huge impact on sobriety and recovery. All this means is that we need to keep trying, not give up, and get creative.
Programs like AA and NA have created online groups, so that feeling of community is not lost. Rehabs are rising to the occasion, as well. Some MATs programs, (medically-assisted treatment) are extending time between visits so people aren’t leaving their houses as much. Help is still available and that help is adapting, too. That is what people struggling with addiction need to remember. Doing little things can help you feel better and help others, too. Making an effort to stay positive can make all the difference. Things like these may help you:
- Daily phone calls or FaceTime with someone else in recovery. Just to talk or vent.
- Create your own private online recovery group where people can ‘get together’.
- Take care of yourself. Just because we are quarantining doesn’t mean we can get lazy. Exercise truly does make you feel good.
- Go for a walk or out into nature. Being active will help not only your physical health, but your mental health, too.
- Go through that closet you haven’t touched in years. Maybe there are some pictures or memories that may make you smile. A smile sounds pretty good right now.
Yes, we are in unprecedented times, but we have so many more tools to help each other now. With cell phones, the internet, and social media we are almost never alone. COVID-19 does not have to challenge recovery if we are up to the challenge of helping each other find ways to stay healthy. This is not the time to go backwards. For how far apart we all feel right now- we are all in this together.