The Coronavirus pandemic, and the preventative procedures put into place to protect ourselves, are issues affecting our health, physical, mental and otherwise. No one is left unaffected to some degree.
Those who suffer from mental disorders like anxiety, bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia, to name just a few, were struggling to manage well as things were. They are now super-challenged to maintain equilibrium in this topsy-turvy environment.
Add to the dilemma, those dealing with addiction, or addictive tendencies toward substance abuse, or are even in recovery, and the “plot” thickens tremendously. There are a lot of people out there at risk of falling further into an addictive cycle and putting their recovery in danger.
Studies have shown a connection between social isolation and addiction, proving that isolation can lead to poorer treatment outcomes and even the possibility of criminal behavior.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information stated, “In early recovery, this aloneness may be acute to the extent an alcoholic/addict is not connected to other sober peers and able to commiserate with him or her, appreciate each step taken in sobriety, or encourage him or her in the same direction of responsible living. Social isolation also increased the risk of committing violent crimes.”
Although COVID-19 presents a definite challenge to people battling addiction, the Center emphasizes there are ways to combat the triggers and isolation and share some proven tips.
Get active in your recovery; sign up for as many AA meetings or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings on Zoom as possible to find a group you connect with.
Find a sponsor; talk to him/her daily; utilize Zoom, FaceTime, House Party, and chat apps.
Study AA’s Big Book.
Set up a daily schedule and follow it. Include meditation, exercise, and study as part of it.
If employed, find out if your company offers free therapy or wellness options via their Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
The recovery world has been quickly adapting to providing Zoom Meetings and offering telehealth services and new ways to stay in touch with others, just not so much in-person. Kudos to the recovery community for acting so quickly.
We don’t know what the ‘new norm’ is going to look like, but we do know that changes are here to stay, and we must adapt to survive. No one has all the answers yet, but there are a lot of good people trying to work out the best solutions.
Embrace change because it is here. We cannot give up on helping others, and by helping them, we are helping ourselves.
It is more important than ever to support those in real need. This crisis is tangible, the need is everywhere, and after the pandemic is under control, there will be those who still suffer the consequences of all the chaos it has created. It may well turn out to have a post-traumatic type stress syndrome effect all its own.
We need to be ready to assist these folks. They will be around a while and deserve a shot at getting back to some degree of a normal life. I’m suggesting we all be vigilant and open-minded when it comes time to help.
Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2015). Alone on the Inside: The Impact of Social Isolation and Helping Others on AOD Use and Criminal Activity. Retrieved April 8, 2020, at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5889144/