Coronavirus’ Social Distancing & Isolation: Avoiding Addiction Relapse

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Coronavirus’ Social Distancing & Isolation: Avoiding Addiction Relapse

Many people recovering from addiction fear isolation and social distancing as these may act as relapse triggers and/or cause anxiety. Many of us who have struggled with addiction in the past used isolation as a way of hiding our substance abuse. Time-off from school or work created the perfect opportunity for us to indulge.

While there is a section of our society that considers social distancing as an opportunity to rest from the ‘hurly burly‘ of social life, (and perhaps hit their productivity the reset button), I continue to hear many joking that working remotely or from home is the new code for “day drinking” and binge-watching television.

A recent article by the New York Times reports that alcohol sales are shooting up with the Coronavirus pandemic. According to Drizly, a delivery service based in Boston, sales rates in the city have increased by 50% since the news about the spread of the virus broke. Overall, sales in Boston, Seattle, and Chicago have increased by more than 300% since January.

Overcoming addiction is a journey which heavily depends on our social connections, relationships, emotional strength, and routines.

People who are in early recovery stages and rely on platforms such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Women for Sobriety, Smart Recovery, LifeRing, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, or Moderation Management are particularly vulnerable to relapses.

Throughout this social distancing period, members of these groups should endeavor to offer each other support through digital chat platforms.

If someone in your life is struggling with addiction, reach out. Understand that what might feel like a relief to you could be a source of anxiety for them. Suspend your judgment as that might help them quiet their own inner judge.

For recovering addicts, remember that it is all about avoiding the first use. Remember that one drink is too many and a thousand not enough.

Things you can do to minimize anxiety and avoid addiction relapse during the Coronavirus social distancing period:
  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories that may trigger your anxiety. Practice taking social media breaks. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  2. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and (I cannot stress this enough) avoid alcohol and drugs.
  3. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy. Do you like reading? Cooking? Playing an instrument?
  4. Connect with your loved ones. Talk with people you trust about your innermost fears and how the social distancing is making you feel.
  5. Seek to spread or read the right information about the Corona Virus (COVID-19) to avoid anxiety. Sharing accurate information about the pandemic will help make people feel less stressed and allow them to easily connect with you.

This article has been written by Mark Justin Kamau, a former addict who sought rehab intervention and dedicated his professional life to helping other addicts walk their recovery journey with ease. Mark is a passionate mental health and addiction-recovery champion. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Economics and Psychology degree.

To speak to Mark or any other psychologist at Hisia about drug & substance abuse recovery, anxiety counseling, relationship counseling, family counseling, parenting counseling, children counseling, suicide prevention, grief support, and self-esteem therapy, kindly call +254 745 562 108 or fill in your contact details in the form below.

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