Coronavirus Creates Opportunity for Relapse Trap

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do most things in life now. With many states mandating citizens to stay at home, we’re all adjusting to a new normal. Routines have been disrupted. Patterns altered. Activities halted. Jobs lost. Our daily lives turned upside down because of one highly contagious virus – a virus that can present greater risk for those who are immunocompromised. It has created new challenges for millions of people living with addictions or substance use disorders, revealing potential triggers at every turn.

So how can a person who is already vulnerable survive and perhaps thrive during these difficult times? It’s important to remember that the phrase “social distancing” really means physical distancing – and adapting the traditional toolbox for recovery can be repurposed to fit within physical distancing guidelines. A sense of community and connections with your support group are still important and possible.

For anyone who has not revisited their recovery toolbox in a while, ways but feels pulled or pushed in the wrong direction, the following can be helpful tips. You can actually do all those things you were taught on your path to recovery, just adjusting for this physically distant world.

  1. Follow a schedule every day. Too much downtime can be extremely detrimental in the recovery process. Self-discipline in this area is critical. Create a printed or written schedule that fills each day with a dependable structure. Display it where it can be referenced throughout the day. Include specific times for eating, sleeping, working, exercising, reflection and any other hobbies used to fill the day with.
  2. Practice or prayer. While in treatment, many patients learn how useful simple tools like or prayer can be. These seemingly passive activities can work wonders on the mind. It’s all about shifting focus, eliminating distractions and becoming mindful. An easy place to find resources for this is YouTube or a app. The key is having an open mind and focusing only on present surroundings and feelings.
  3. Take advantage of online meetups. Thousands of AA and NA groups have transitioned to virtual meetings. On top of the traditional AA/NA meetings, many treatment centers are offering online support groups. Utilize FaceTime or Google Hangouts and connect face-to-face with your support network – whether that be your sponsor, friends or family. Sometimes seeing a friendly face is all it takes to keep yourself on track. Your support lifelines are too valuable in the recovery journey to cancel or postpone.
  4. Set healthy limits. Negative thoughts can heavily contribute to anxiety or depression. Put boundaries up to prevent possible sources of negativity. Set a timer for getting news updates, then move on to a different activity. The same goes for spending time with anyone in your life who stresses you out – limit the time you spend around them.
  5. Exercise regularly. Multiple studies have shown that exercise can improve one’s mood and reduce some cravings. This is particularly helpful for those who have anxiety or depression along coupled with . Scheduling time for physical activity is important whether recovery is going well or it’s getting rough. If you’re not feeling motivated, keep it simple; a brisk 20-minute walk can work wonders.
  6. Seek guidance. Many psychiatrists, counselors, and other support sources are offering ways to connect using teleconferencing and video options. As mentioned previously, if you feel you’ve already relapsed, getting help is vital. There’s no better time than the present to seek treatment, especially in a medically supervised residential setting. Such facilities can mitigate the risk of an infectious disease outbreak and provide a comprehensive level of care needed for co-occurring disorders. They have the staff and knowledge to keep patients as safe as possible while treating the problem at hand.

Above all, remember that this pandemic is temporary and this too shall pass. If you are struggling, using the above tools can provide a sense of control and accomplishment while continuing your recovery journey. COVID-19 doesn’t have to be a cause for , but it also doesn’t have to be the reason to not seek treatment if does happen.

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