Successful Recovery in a Crisis
Posted on 04/17/20: Addiction Recovery
The world has been plunged into a panic due to rising COVID-19 cases, numbers for which world leaders and scientists have justified calling this a pandemic. This has left many people feeling anxious, isolated, and in fear for their future. As per recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people have been taking shelter in their homes to minimize the risk of spreading the disease. Unfortunately, this has led to many therapists, healthcare providers, and peer support groups to move to online services, or even postpone providing services indefinitely. Other resources have become more and more difficult to access, and the nature of isolation has left many recovering addicts feeling lost and anxious. In this article, we will provide ways in which you can continue to be successful in your recovery journey during a crisis like this.
Learn to recognize the signs of 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. 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. If you find yourself experiencing high levels of stress, changes in attitude or mood, random recurrences of withdrawal symptoms, behavior changes, decline in socialization, poor judgment or decision-making, or thinking about going back to using drugs or alcohol, these may be signs of an impending relapse. If you are experiencing any of these, we urge you to reach out to someone immediately. The longer you let these feelings linger, the more susceptible you will become to relapsing.
Establish a new routine to fight boredom and reduce idle time
Routine is very important in the life of a recovering addict but especially during a time of crisis. 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!
Why is establishing a new routine so crucial? Well, boredom can be dangerous for a recovering addict. The longer you sit alone with your thoughts, the risk of negativity seeping into your thoughts will rise. Eight Row chef and recovered addict David Nichols had this to say in an article in the Seattle Eater: “The challenges of feeling isolated are daunting, especially for addicts. The times when my drinking was at its worst, I wouldn’t go out to bars — it was me drinking alone in my apartment. The addict in me was at its best when alone, because no one was around to question it or offer some kind of distraction from it, and I could continue to drink uninhibited, slipping deeper into despair and self-loathing.” This is true for many addicts, which is why it is important that you stay connected to others and to doing things that keep your mind busy in a healthy way.
Take care of your body and mind
Just because we have been advised to avoid public gatherings, events, and groups, doesn’t mean the outdoors are off limits! In fact, getting outside and staying active has been encouraged by many of our world leaders, as it can help keep us sane and happy. 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.
Eating healthier has also become more of a struggle for Americans during this time. 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.
Stay informed, but limit exposure to sensationalized media.
Staying on top of emerging information is crucial, but if you’re not careful with the news you consume, it can easily overwhelm you. Ensure that you are only getting information from reputable sources such as the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO). If you see something and you want to know more, we implore you to fact-check.
Advice on how to cope from experts
According to Arizona State University counseling program professors Dr. James Bludworth and Jennifer Pereira, Americans are turning to unhealthy behaviors as coping mechanisms. Alcohol and marijuana sales are soaring, gaming and TV bingeing are increasing, and a lot of people are eating more and exercising much less. In an effort to help minimize these unhealthy coping mechanisms, they offered up their advice on how to deal:
Dr. Bludworth’s advice is to take a page from the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) handbook. He says that a great way for people to cope with feelings of distress, and applicable during crisis as well, is to learn three essential skills:
1. Accepting the present situation for what it is and what it is not.
2. Distracting oneself from self-destructive behaviors.
To read more about DBT methods and learn more about how to develop the coping mechanisms above, check out Positive Psychology’s resources on all-things DBT.
Pereira’s advice is to deal with negative reactions by:
- Give some thought to what normally works to calm and center yourself.
- Work to control what you can actually control, and be realistic about the things you can’t.
- Stay as present as possible in the current moment. Don’t let yourself spin out into the unknown of the coming weeks and months.
- Be gentle with yourself and recognize that you may not be feeling productive, motivated, energized, well-rested at this time – and that’s OK.
- Find creative ways to connect consistently with others.
- Take time to reconnect with yourself – finding humor; engaging in mindfulness, meditation and exercise; attending to diet, etc.
More resources for those in 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 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)
Recovering from an addiction is hard enough, but add in a global crisis to the mix and everything becomes ten times more of a struggle. However, remember that this crisis, like everything, is temporary. Humanity has recovered from much, much worse, and although our feelings about the current situation are valid, it is also important to remember that things will not be like this forever.
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