5 Ways Sobriety Can Be Impacted by Coronavirus
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the regular order of human affairs, and adjusting to the institutional changes has been challenging for everyone; however, those who deal with addiction are being uniquely affected by this global situation. The risk of relapse has been greatly heightened by collective measures being taken to flatten the curve. If your battle seems more intense then usual, then rest assured that you’re not alone. As proof, let’s take a look at five distinct ways in which coronavirus has increased the danger for individuals with a history of substance abuse:
1. 12-Step Meetings Have Been Halted
According to The Washington Post, social distancing is society’s best strategy for flattening the curve. Thus, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, large populations have been placed under strict lockdown measures. Most group activities have been subjected to an indefinite hiatus, and this restriction, unfortunately, includes the vast majority of gatherings dedicated to recovery assistance. Because 12-step programs are frequently the only source of support available to some people, the impact of these closures has been close to devastating.
Keep in mind that there are still other forms of support available in the age of this virus. Remote care is taking precedence during this time of upheaval, and you can connect with a variety of helpful resources online. The following forms of assistance have all shifted their treatment mode to emphasize virtual connections:
- Mental Health Counselors
- Psychologists and Psychiatrists
- Spiritual Leaders
- Life Coaches
- Outpatient Centers
- Crisis Hotlines
Furthermore, it would be well-advised to maintain contact with members of your current support system. A lot of 12-step managers have adapted their instructions to fit the digital model. Be sure to contact them regarding any possible resources they might have to help amid this difficult situation. Whether they have transitioned to offering online provisions or shifted towards giving out referrals, your provider should be more than happy to offer direction.
2. Isolation Fosters Anxiety and Depression
It’s a well-known fact that isolation enables escapist tendencies, which is why orders to self-quarantine are particularly damaging for those facing addiction. Loneliness can trigger a wide range of negative reactions, and drugs are often used to fill the void. While the drive to seek intoxication inherently makes sense, it is typically counterproductive and self-defeating. Drug use typically reinforces patterns of social withdrawal, so the isolation is commonly a self-feeding affliction.
Furthermore, the general lack of social interaction means that no one is around to hold addicts accountable for their decisions. If your motivation to stay sober is based on external factors, it can be much harder to stay clean when your impetus is suddenly only coming from inside. This pandemic is certainly going to test everyone’s mettle, so now is the moment for willpower to reach the forefront. Determination and conviction are going to be your best friends in the days ahead, so don’t neglect to nurture them.
3. Boredom Can Quickly Lead to Relapse
A lot of people are finding themselves with extra free time thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychology Today has thoroughly detailed the links between boredom and drug use. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied and distracted from potential temptations. The following activities are especially beneficial for staving off unwanted urges:
- Implement a Stay-at-Home Exercise Regimen
- Learn How to Cook New Recipes
- Spend Time with Animals
- Find a Safe Place to Volunteer
- Play Online Video Games
By focusing on tasks that promote health and well-being, it’s conceivable that one could redirect addictive impulses towards self-improvement. If the slow passage of time has posed a threat to your sobriety, then do everything that is within your power to stay busy.
4. Unemployment May Trigger Substance Use
CNN explains that 17% of the unemployed working-age population struggles with some form of substance abuse. This rate is nearly double the percentage of working individuals who are dealing with addiction. Oftentimes, drugs are used as a substitute for the loss of purpose that unemployment entails.
The sudden shock of job loss can also exacerbate pre-existing psychological challenges rooted in childhood trauma. Structure and routine are both integral to a lasting recovery, so poor job markets resulting from economic downturns are bound to propagate relapses. It’s important to find meaning in other places besides work. To overcome listlessness, consider exploring old hobbies or researching new ones.
5. Widespread Strife Can Generate a Spiritual Crisis
As the Center for Disease Control has stated, places of worship have become hotspots for COVID-19. Ultimately, churches and spiritual centers have been forced to close in significant numbers for the safety of their patrons. This has led to countless members of society losing their primary means of stability.
The difficulties are further compounded by the fact that everyone is witnessing human suffering on a profound scale. This dynamic is contributing to an increased lack of faith in some communities. Since devotion to a higher power is frequently a cornerstone of rehabilitation, this detachment from religion has the potential to wreak havoc on the standard recovery process. With this in mind, it is vital to realize that there are still plenty of methods for non-believers to cope.
Don’t feel like you have to navigate the uncertainty alone, especially since we are here to aid your recovery in any manner possible. If you are experiencing symptoms of a relapse, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Ethos Recovery. Our mission is to provide you with whatever support we can during this historical moment. Don’t subject yourself to more hardship than is necessary when there are plenty of resources on hand. You just need to know where to look, and we should be your first destination in the case of substance abuse recovery.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.