Staying Sober During COVID-19
Staying sober during a crisis like COVID-19 is not an event; it’s a process filled with relapse prevention techniques that help you adequately address your psychological and behavioral needs without the use of drugs or alcohol.
Staying sober is hard. Statistics show 85% of people in short-term recovery relapse within a year of treatment. During a nationwide crisis, this number may be higher. There are many reasons people relapse.
Instead of looking at why people relapse, let’s focus on those who are successful in recovery. If you wanted to become a writer, you would study the writing techniques of authors who have achieved success. You wouldn’t take advice from a writer who has never been published or who has terrible grammar.
The same theory applies here. If you want success in recovery, learn from the ones who have been in long-term recovery.
Because we are in a crisis to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, you must be able to adapt your relapse prevention plan. The good news is that all steps that prevent relapse can be modified for those who are ordered to stay home and for those who are limited in what they can do outside the home.
Below are must-do actions you need to do to stay sober and an adaptation to help you implement those actions during COVID-19.
Before COVID-19: Meeting with an Addiction Specialist before the virus scare was easy, you set a time and show up. This became impossible when you were ordered to stay home during COVID-19.
During COVID-19: Treatment facilities, as well as individual therapists, have gone virtual. They have downloaded HIPAA compliant therapeutic software that allows you to attend virtual counseling from home.
Before COVID-19: Attending support group meetings is essential to long-term recovery. AA, NA, and other supports are recommended daily for those who have only been out of treatment for a few months. The virus scare halted all in-person meetings.
During COVID–19: AA and NA have had online meetings available for years. Now, there are even more meetings for addiction and mental health support also. If you have anxiety, depression, stress from trauma, or any other issue, there are online groups available for you to join. If you struggle to find one, your counselor will be able to help.
Build a Strong Support System
Before COVID-19: You call your sponsor, and the two of you meet for coffee in the middle of the night when you have a craving. Or, you meet with a peer recovery support for lunch each week to hold each other accountable. You are prevented from meeting with anyone in person now, but you can still utilize your support system.
After COVID-19: Your support system can become stronger than ever. You are on lockdown due to the Coronavirus. This means your support system is also on lockdown. This allows you more time to engage with your sponsor, friends, family, and others who influence you positively to stay sober.
Establish Positive Habits and Routines for Staying Sober
Before COVID-19: Life can sometimes get in the way of making positive changes stick. You have plans to work out at the gym but get a call from your friend requesting a ride to work. You are in the middle of cooking a healthy meal when your sibling shows up with fast food. It would be hard for anyone to say “no” in these scenarios. During COVID-19, these scenarios should not be an issue.
During COVID-19: Right now, whether quarantined partially or entirely, is the perfect time to establish a solid routine that can help you stay sober. The more structured your time, the less opportunity for boredom, which can lead to relapse. Fill every hour of every day with a planned activity that promotes recovery. Routines help regulate body functions like blood pressure and temperature, as well as promotes good sleep hygiene. Practicing mindfulness should be a part of your new routine.
Know Yourself and Your Body
Before COVID-19: Likely, you didn’t spend much time focusing on your mind, body, and spirit before the virus scare. You were too busy, and if you are struggling to stay sober, you are in survival mode. If you had a headache, you popped a pill to get rid of the symptoms. Or, if you were hungry, you picked up the fastest, cheapest meal you could find. If you were depressed, you stuffed your emotions. Doing this will lead to relapse.
During COVID-19: Now that you are forced to slow down and stay home, you can focus on your whole body. Mindfulness practices teach you to pay attention to your mental and physical needs.
If you have aches and pains, take the time to listen to your body and discover their source. Once you know the cause, you can begin healing that area, so popping pills is not needed. Healing mentally is just as important as healing physically.
If you suffer from a mental health disorder, you are not alone. Most of society has some form of mental illness or loves someone who does. Getting proper treatment for your dysfunction can mean the difference between staying sober and relapsing. It helps you avoid the desire to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.
You can meet with a Psychiatrist online through a virtual rehab or search for individual doctors. Psychiatrists are specialists in mental health and should be the only doctor to give you a diagnosis.
Final Suggestion: Ask for Help to Stay Sober
Asking for help, with anything, is hard to do because we don’t want to burden other people. We don’t want to feel weak, and we don’t want to appear incompetent. What you don’t realize is that not asking for help kept you in your addiction, and can lead to relapse.
If you feel overwhelmed, stop, and ask for help. If you feel bored, ask for ideas or search online for boredom busters. Recognize your feelings and be strong enough to seek advice from those who can. You can succeed in staying sober.