How to Cope With Isolation
Posted on 04/23/20: Addiction Recovery
As we battle to stay safe during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s becoming clear that staying at home all day long may not be as fun and exciting as many of us originally thought. While there are a lot of perks of having time to ourselves, such as ability to think, self-reflect, work on personal goals and hobbies, etc, there are a lot of downsides too. Not only can it be lonely if you live alone, but there are many cases in which the people you live with (whether it be family members, roommates, a significant other) aren’t necessarily the most healthy relationships. There could be verbal abuse, or in some cases, even domestic abuse and violence within the home. Isolation is particularly difficult for current and former addicts, as healthy distractions such as work, spending time with friends, attending support group meetings, going to school, and others play a big role in helping us maintain sobriety. Not to mention, maintaining connections with your support system can be difficult during this time. This article will give you some ways to cope with isolation so that you can stay connected and prevent relapse.
Your support group is integral in holding you accountable for your sobriety, so losing the ability to see family and friends in person and spend time with them is a big blow. However, try not to let this prevent you from staying in consistent communication. Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of ways to stay in touch with loved ones:
Phone calls. Phone calls are perhaps the simplest and best way to maintain communication. There’s nothing like hearing the voice of your family member or friend, and it allows you to communicate on a much deeper level than other methods such as texting.
Video calls. Video calls have become very popular during this time, using programs like Skype, FaceTime, House Party, etc. These allow you to actually see the faces of those you are talking to, which adds an extra personal touch. This format is great for support group meetings.
Social media. Take this one with a grain of salt. While social media can be a great place for us to see what our loved ones and the rest of the world are up to, spending too much time on social media and the Internet in general can have adverse effects. Especially with the state of the world right now, it’s not ideal to constantly be inundated with sensationalized news sources who often use scare-tactics and dramatization to get people to click on their articles.
Texting. Texting is a great way to maintain consistent contact with people in your life. It’s super easy to send a quick text or a few throughout the day just to let your loved ones know you are thinking about them. This is also a great format for sending funny memes, uplifting news, information, etc.
Learn to recognize and prevent relapse
Researchers have estimated that up to 80% of people who find long-term sobriety relapse at least once along the way. And with the situation we are all in right now, many of the causes of relapse have increased in our lives tenfold. During a global or national crisis, it is crucial to recognize the signs that you may be headed for a relapse so you can do what needs to be done to stop it from creeping up on you. Here are some signs that a relapse may be on the horizon:
- High levels of stress. High stress is one of the leading causes of addiction, as there is a strong relationship between the two. Experiencing stress in one’s life is completely normal and even healthy, but too much stress can become overwhelming and too much for one person to handle. In the throes of a global crisis, stress levels are through the roof. Because of this, learning how to manage stress is paramount.
- Change in attitude and mood. If you notice that you are feeling hopeless about things you were once passionate about (i.e. attending recovery meetings, connecting with family and friends, etc), this could be an indicator of relapse.
- Denial of change in mood. You find yourself experiencing the aforementioned changes in mood, but are continuously denying those feelings or attempting to pretend that you are fine. Because of this, you may prevent yourself from reaching out for help, which in turn could leave you even more susceptible to relapse.
- Recurrence of withdrawal symptoms. It is possible to experience withdrawal symptoms, even after your detox period has “ended.” These are called post-acute withdrawal symptoms, and they can resurface during times of stress.
- Behavior changes. You may notice yourself slipping back into old behavior patterns that existed when you were in the midst of addiction.
- Decline in socialization. In normal life, avoidance of social situations and isolation can be a sign that you need help. In the case of mandatory quarantine or a crisis of another kind, this may simply involve avoidance of connection with family and friends, through whatever means. Ignoring texts, declining calls, etc.
- Change in routine. Having a routine post-detox can be extremely helpful in staying sober. But these days, everyone’s routines have been forcibly shaken up. It’s likely that experienced some sort of breakdown in your routine under these circumstances.
- Poor judgment/making poor decisions. This is where things may really start to break down. You may begin having trouble making decisions or find yourself making unhealthy decisions. These decisions may be spurred from irrational anger, confusion, stress, irritation, etc. After making these choices, you may be unable to manage the consequences, causing things in your life to spiral out of control.
- Thinking of going back to your addiction. Feelings of hopelessness may cause you to entertain thoughts of “just having one drink” in an attempt to make yourself feel better. You may think you can control it, and you won’t become addicted again.
Create a new daily routine
Routine is very important in the life of a recovering addict. Sticking to a schedule can create much-needed stability and a sense of purpose for people. Unfortunately, most people’s routines have been completely upset by the stay-at-home orders. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make a new one! Create a new day-to-day routine that feels productive and offers you a sense of accomplishment. Don’t forget to incorporate exercise, time for socialization, and your hobbies!
It’s important that you fill your day up with productive and enjoyable activities to avoid boredom and idle time. Boredom can be dangerous. And the longer you sit alone with your thoughts, the risk of negativity seeping into your thoughts will arise. This is why it is important that you stay connected to others and to doing things that keep your mind busy in a healthy way.
Exercise and physical activity boosts endorphins to make us feel good and eliminate stress. You don’t have to do anything too crazy at first, just adding a handful of brisk 30-minute walks into your weekly routine will be a huge benefit to your mental and physical well-being. You can slowly increase your activity as you feel stronger and more motivated. This will also help you develop more structure in your new daily and weekly routines.
A lot of people have found themselves bored at home, and as a result may turn to constant snacking just to give them something to do! However, this isn’t the best for our health. What we eat has a huge impact on not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. Eating fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, plenty of protein, and generally focusing on consuming a whole food, combined with cutting out sugar and processed foods is one of the best things you can do to begin healing yourself from within.
Don’t neglect your recovery
It’s important to spread awareness about the many resources available to recovering addicts and their families during this time. No one should have to suffer alone.
For Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, visit aaspeaker.com
For Narcotics Anonymous meetings, visit neveraloneclub.org
There is also an online recovery community called In the Rooms, which offers virtual meetings.
And a list of online forums and communities, courtesy of Addictions and Recovery:
- AA Intergroup (aa-intergroup.org)
- Addiction Recovery Guide (addictionrecoveryguide.org)
- Addiction Survivors (addictionsurvivors.org)
- NA Chat (na-chat.com)
- Quit Smoking Support (quitsmokingsupport.com)
- Recovery Zone (recoveryzone.org) Complete audio version of the Big Book.
- Soberistas (soberistas.com)
- Support Groups (supportgroups.com) Covering a wide range of issues including: addiction, depression, anxiety and suicide
- 12 Step Forums (12stepforums.net)
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.
Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media