The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, including people with substance abuse disorders and other mental health issues. Symptoms of anxiety and depression may worsen during this time. This can be a very difficult time for people in recovery from addiction.
Addiction is often referred to as a disease of isolation because it impacts a person’s ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. Most substance abuse treatment takes place in a social setting such as group therapy. Coping with isolation during this time of “social distancing” can be challenging as feelings of stress, worry, and anxiety may increase in severity. These negative feelings and emotions can trigger thoughts of substance use.
Even in times of uncertainty, one thing you can control is your sobriety by making your recovery your first priority. If you have been attending addiction treatment or recovery support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, don’t stop your recovery maintenance routine.
Staying connected to support and services during COVID-19 is critical. We are social creatures who need connection with others and this is even more apparent for people in recovery from addiction or other mental health disorders. There is clinical evidence linking social isolation and loneliness to mental health and addiction issues.
Recovery support is essential and can begin with a strong support system that includes family and friends, recovery peers, 12-step sponsors, church support. Most support services have internet and online support meetings that can be a good way to engage with others in recovery. There are also many apps and podcasts that can provide recovery support.
Avoid relapse triggers
Remember that negative emotions can be a trigger for relapse. Here are some points to remember to help you stay positive:
Limit exposure to negative feedback from the media.
Take care of yourself and your physical health by a balanced meal plan and regular exercise routine.
Try a new hobby or activity.
Maintain a regular schedule and routine, including healthy sleep patterns.
Stay connected to your support system with regular phone calls and video chats.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Participation in group meetings can reduce feelings of loneliness and help prevent relapse. It goes without saying that Online support group meetings can’t take the place of face-to-face meetings, but they can help you stay connected to your support group and help you stay sober.
Online resources for recovery support
|Mental Health America||mhanational.org|
|Global recovery community||InTheRooms.com|
|All 12 Step Meetings||12step.org|
|For family members
For more information: