Struggling with addiction is difficult on the best day. When battling addiction while simultaneously fighting the risk of a virus, fear can quickly begin to feel like a threat to your sobriety.
Dr. Peter Grinspoon recently published an article entitled “A tale of two epidemics: When COVID-19 and opioid addiction collide.” He explains that addicts are more susceptible to being infected with the coronavirus due to the “social determinants of health” outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Simultaneously, social distancing, isolation, and the disruption to treatment centers can make it more likely that addicts will suffer a relapse or overdose.
This isn’t too surprising, given that the National Institute on Drug Abuse, already speculated that this could be the case in early April. Still, the threat of relapse wasn’t so apparent until the shutdown forced addicts into states of isolation for their own health.
Why is this a problem?
In his article, Dr. Grinspoon notes that a common theme in recovery is “addiction is a disease of isolation.” The pandemic has prevented many people from attending meetings, and increased anxiety is a “near-universal trigger” for addicts. He explains how these factors put the addict at risk for relapse.
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent this. For example:
- Online meetings. Due to the pandemic, a lot of treatment centers offer virtual meetings. Find options in your area for this service.
- Call a friend (or even better, call your sponsor). Talking out your anxiety, struggles, and fear regarding the pandemic can genuinely help you feel less alone.
- Try NOT to be alone when you can. Phone calls, video chats, and even email correspondence can be beneficial to remind you that you are not alone despite the quarantine.
- Keep a routine. Are you able to work from home? If so, spend a specific time doing that. Make time for meals, hygiene, and self-care. Also, make time to get outside and take a walk. This will also help you not feel alone as you are likely to see at least one other person (even if just from a distance).
- Find a new hobby. There have not been many positives to this pandemic, but we have gained some extra time to discover new hobbies and interests. Try something you have been wanting to try. Maybe you’re interested in painting or reading a book, but have never had time. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn to cook or bake. This is the perfect time to pick up the things you had no time for in the past.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, be sure to stay positive and take care of yourself! Never hesitate to seek help when you need it. For more information on help with your individual needs regarding mental health or addiction assistance, call Alta Loma at (866) 457-3843.