Avoiding Relapse in the Time of Coronavirus
by Melissa Holmes Goodmon
Recovery is not a straight line. Life throws things at you. Whether it’s a bad day at work, an argument with a loved one, recovery is a constant battle. COVID-19 brought with it public health orders that led many of us to shelter in place, social distance, and work from home without the tools to cope. It was sudden and unexpected. It disconnected us from the habits we’ve built to help in recovery.
Avoiding relapse during these uncertain times is a challenge for everyone. Missing out on daily activities that connect us to others is detrimental for many starting recovery or those keeping it together when the going gets rough. This social contact and connection is an essential part of recovery.
Tips for Avoiding Relapse During the Coronavirus Pandemic
From meetings and support groups to community service and giving back, missing out on these key parts of daily life will leave gaps that you will want to fill. Let’s look at some tips for avoiding relapse during the Coronavirus pandemic and how you can keep fighting the good fight to stay healthy and sober.
Build a New Routine
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are on the rise and heightened for everyone. People have to figure out how to work from home, educate children at home, and stay occupied when they would’ve been out with friends. Filling those empty time slots in your life with healthy habits is key to maintaining your emotional stability. Habits and schedules are an important part of sober life.
With the Coronavirus throwing these routines out the window, it’s time to make new ones. Consider setting a schedule of activities for yourself throughout the day, such as making yourself breakfast, working out, going for a walk, calling a friend or loved one, or enjoying something at home you wouldn’t normally have the time to do.
Check In On Yourself
You know yourself better than anyone. It’s okay to feel anxious, scared, and other emotions during this. Nobody knows what comes next – that’s okay. Be aware of those feelings and embrace them. If you’re feeling isolated, something that leads many to relapse, do something about it. Don’t sit idle with your feelings.
What you’re feeling is valid and needs to be addressed before you go down the rabbit hole of relapse. Consider journaling when you’re feeling overwhelmed to get your feelings out. This is helpful to look back on and see how you overcame those feelings at that moment. It’s a reminder that you can overcome things at the moment when you’re feeling like giving in to your addiction.
Use Technology to Connect
There are many meetings going virtual now, thanks to the internet. A quick Google search will give you access to 12-step meetings and more in your neck of the woods. You may be surprised to find even more groups in tune with your specific needs. Your therapist or sponsor may offer teleconferences. Leverage technology to bring you out of isolation. If you don’t have a computer, that’s okay – use your cell phone to connect.
Call a family member or friends. Organize something with your support group if they don’t have something going already. Schedule calls or a time to meet “face-to-face” over a video with the people in your life on a recurring basis. This will add more routine to your schedule and give you something to look forward to each week.
If you’re struggling with recovery and not sure where to turn, consider calling Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
COVID-19 may make it difficult to connect with the world around you. It doesn’t have to lead to relapse. Developing new habits and using technology to connect with the world around you is essential to stay on the path to recovery during this new normal. Remember: You’re not the only one struggling to avoid relapse in the Coronavirus age. You will make it through this, just like you’ve made it through everything else at this moment.
About the Author
Melissa Holmes Goodmon is the founder and CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, an Orange County addiction treatment center for women, by women. Melissa’s own struggles with addiction and passion for helping people led her to begin working in addiction recovery, which culminated in the founding of Casa Capri Recovery in 2011.