During the COVID-19 pandemic, staying physically and mentally healthy is critically important. Although it may be challenging to remain at home, to not go to work, or to not socialize with family and friends, taking these steps now will help you remain safe throughout the outbreak. How has COVID-19 affected people in addiction recovery? When you are going through addiction treatment, these restrictions may seem especially difficult. Knowing more about what to expect and how to handle it can help you better manage your recovery.
Natural Reactions to the Stressful Situation
Even though you may feel alone during this time, you are definitely not alone. Going through addiction recovery during the COVID-19 outbreak can affect you in many ways, but your feelings of anxiety, worry, or fear are natural reactions. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that, during a time of social distancing and orders to stay at home, it is natural to be concerned about:
- Your own health status
- The health status of others whom you may have exposed to the disease
- The experience of monitoring yourself, or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of the disease
- Time taken off from work and the potential loss of income and job security
- The challenges of securing things you need, such as groceries and personal care items
- Concern about being able to effectively care for children or others in your care
- Uncertainty or frustration about how long you will need to remain in this situation, and uncertainty about the future
- Loneliness associated with feeling cut off from the world and from loved ones
- Boredom and frustration because you may not be able to work or engage in regular day-to-day activities
- Uncertainty or ambivalence about the situation
- A desire to use alcohol or drugs to cope
- Symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, or sleeping too little or too much
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as intrusive distressing memories, flashbacks (reliving the event), nightmares, changes in thoughts and mood, and being easily startled
In addiction recovery, you will need to take extra steps to ensure your physical health. Many doctors have said that some people who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse may be more susceptible to COVID-19 because they may have weaker immune systems or existing infections such as hepatitis C or HIV.
Likewise, since COVID-19 has been shown to attack the lungs, healthcare experts indicate that people with opioid use disorder and methamphetamine use disorder may be more vulnerable to the effects on respiratory and pulmonary health. Staying in recovery and staying is essential to your physical and mental health during this time especially.
The effects of isolation and social distancing may have their greatest impact on your mental health while you’re in recovery during the COVID-19 outbreak. Staying in isolation may increase your feelings of depression and anxiety. Remember, though, that these are natural reactions and you are not alone when you experience these feelings.
SAMHSA suggests some practical tips for coping with the current situation, relaxing your mind, and staying positive:
- Relax your body often by doing things that work for you. Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate or pray, or engage in activities you enjoy.
- Pace yourself between stressful activities and do something fun after a hard task.
- Talk about your experiences and feelings to loved ones and friends, if you find it helpful.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
- Consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well.
Although it may seem very difficult, it is essential that you follow stay at home guidelines for your safety and for the safety of those around you. Avoid close contact with others. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer. Only go out if it is absolutely necessary, to get groceries or other essentials.
There are many ways you can stay connected with your friends, family, and even members of your therapy and support groups. Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce your anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during COVID-19.
Take advantage of technology for group chats. You can use platforms that allow you to see each other as well as speak to each other to maintain a sense of community. Also, make the effort to call, email, text, or connect with friends and family through social media as often as possible to maintain a sense of community and connection that is so critical for your mental health and your addiction recovery.
Contact BRC Recovery with Your Questions About Addiction Recovery During COVID-19
You are not alone. At BRC Recovery, we understand this is a challenging time and we will continue to support you through your addiction recovery, so you can get sober and build the life you’ve always wanted. We specialize in helping chronic relapsers and those who think they are resistant to treatment. Please call us at 1-866-461-1759 with your questions and to learn more about our services.