The COVID pandemic has created a unique set of stressors that can be particularly challenging for those in addiction recovery. In addition to general feelings of anxiety surrounding illness, there are certain factors that can make sobriety all the more difficult to maintain.
Social distancing and lockdown have arguably been the two most life-changing aspects of the pandemic. For those in recovery, this has meant a sudden loss of support systems and resources. While digital recovery meetings and counseling appointments have increased in availability, it can be a significant adjustment for those who have previously relied on face-to-face interaction for structure and accountability.
People in recovery may find that their usual social and entertainment outlets are no longer available to them. Staying busy can be crucial in maintaining sobriety, as boredom is frequently cited as a reason for relapse.
Normalized Drinking/Substance Abuse
Social media is often flooded with posts that highlight drinking or substance use as a reasonable, even humorous coping mechanism for COVID-induced stress. This normalization is compounded by the fact that liquor stores and dispensaries have been allowed to remain open during the lockdown as “essential businesses.”
Steps to Maintain Your Recovery
Remind Yourself That This Is Temporary
With a vaccine currently in distribution, many leading health experts anticipate a return to normal daily activities in mid-to-late 2021. It can be encouraging to know that your sources of support and entertainment will soon be back in place.
Create a New Routine
In the meantime, try to regain some structure in your daily life by planning out a new routine. Set a time for when you wake up, when you exercise, when you prep your meals, and when you go to bed. Work in a time to try a new hobby or activity to keep your mind occupied.
Limit Time on Social Media
A 2012 APA Study suggested a clear correlation between social media and substance abuse relapse, particularly among adolescents. Try to obtain news from reliable outlets, and limit your social scrolling to friends and family.
Keep Up With Therapy and Support Groups
Staying involved with your counselor and support groups virtually will help you remain focused on your goals and lessen the feelings of isolation you may be experiencing in lockdown.
Try Online Resources
In addition to your virtual meetings, you can stay intimate with your recovery through other online resources. There are several mobile apps that can help supplement your group meetings. Many are free and offer features such as sobriety clocks, check-ins, daily motivational messages, meditations, message boards, and connections to local support groups. Podcasts dedicated to sobriety can also be an excellent resource for inspiration and a sense of community among fellow addicts in recovery.