Those who are in recovery for a substance use disorder are currently finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. Central to sustaining sobriety is the concept of social support, usually obtained through local recovery group meetings or support groups. At the same time as anxiety is running high—a common trigger for relapse—in person twelve-step meetings or similar groups have had to temporarily shutter due to the coronavirus.
Recovery support is an essential element that cannot be overstated. People rely on the weekly, even daily in person gatherings where they can find peer support and guidance. Suddenly, this important resource is unavailable, which can leave some individuals vulnerable to relapse.
While meetings are very helpful to individuals in recovery, there are alternative solutions to be accessed during this unusual time period. Learning how to find support online while also avoiding stress is key. Being knowledgeable about various options to remain sober during coronavirus COVID-19 will be invaluable for the foreseeable future.
8 Ways to Remain Sober During Coronavirus COVID-19
Nothing has shaken our world over the past hundred years quite like the coronavirus pandemic. In a matter of weeks, we went from enjoying a robust economy and looking forward to March Madness and the start of the baseball season, to being stuck inside our homes. The impact of the coronavirus event has everyone reeling, including those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Suddenly, our lives have been significantly altered, if only for a short while.
The problem for most is the not knowing. No one knows how much of a financial impact the COVID-19 viral outbreak will cause. No one knows how long we will all be stuck at home. This uncertainty causes a good amount of anxiety, a mental health state that is not good for individuals in recovery.
Individuals in recovery are particularly vulnerable at this difficult time. Learning how to manage this anxiety while finding ways to access recovery support will help get us through the worst of this. To remain sober during coronavirus COVID-19 consider the following tips:
- Access telehealth. Outpatient rehab centers have quickly responded to providing assessment and evaluation via telehealth platforms. Many rehabs now have Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime capabilities to assist individuals who may be wavering or who have relapsed. The same addiction expertise is available over these video platforms as would be in person at the rehab, so if you feel you are in crisis or need some guidance, utilized the telehealth systems offered at rehab centers.
- Online support groups. Fortunately, recovery communities are able to join online forums during the crisis. There are online communities for A.A., N.A., SMART Recovery, LifeRing, and Women for Sobriety. The groups utilize a variety of technologies to connect to recovery groups, such as Zoom, Adobe Connect, or chat forums. While an in-person support group is ideal, making this adjustment to an online support community is a good option at this time.
- Use recovery support apps. Smartphone apps will help you remain sober during coronavirus COVID-19, too. There are many free recovery apps to access real time support for maintaining sobriety. Some of the popular apps include “I am Sober,” “SoberGrid,” “Connections,” “SoberTool,” and “Twenty-Four Hours a Day.” People are increasingly comfortable using apps for a variety of functions—weight loss, spiritual resources, monitoring heart health, and more. Why not have a couple of handy recovery apps at the ready, just in case.
- Pick up the phone. Sometimes the most potent deterrent to relapse is the voice of a trusted friend or loved one, or your sponsor, gently persuading you to remain sober. Texting is great, but it does not have the same emotional effect as hearing someone walk you through a bump in the road. While we are stuck at home, just the sound of a supportive voice on the phone can make all the difference in keeping us grounded in recovery.
- Practice mindfulness. There is no arguing that all the chatter around the coronavirus threat can be distracting and stressful. Our thoughts may wander off into thinking about what if this or what if that, only ramping up the anxiety level. Most of us learn how to access mindfulness as an effective coping skill in recovery, so let’s use that now. Train your mind to block all the fear-based thoughts that might be causing unneeded stress by centering attention on the moment at hand. This takes practice, but it is very effective, especially if you combine mindfulness with focused breathing.
- Relieve boredom. As they say, boredom is the devil’s workshop. In recovery, boredom can be a trigger to relapse and must be recognized and dealt with in a timely way. While our movements are so limited, it is very easy to fall into mind-numbing boredom. To combat this boredom takes a concerted effort. Jot down a list of projects you want to accomplish, order a book you’ve been wanting to read, or come up with a new skill you want to learn. Make the most of this unusual stay-at-home order and avert boredom through purposeful actions.
- Get exercise. It is disappointing that we cannot go to the gym at this time. In fact, fitness is a very important recovery action that can help solidify recovery, so by not having access to the gym we might see our commitment to recovery a bit shaken. To keep our minds in a positive place it is important to maintain fitness somehow. If you have handweights or equipment, tune in to some music and work out at home several times a week. Cardio exercise is the best thing we can do for our overall health, so get outside and run, jog, walk, hike, or cycle. Tune in to some yoga classes on YouTube, too, for a mind-body workout.
- Get good sleep. If you can’t think straight because you are not sleeping well you will be more vulnerable to relapse. There are several ways you can improve the quality of your sleep. Start by sticking to a regular sleep schedule, by going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day. Avoid heavy meals after 7 pm, and limit caffeine. Try not to do a brisk workout after 6 pm, and shut down the smartphone an hour before bedtime. Avoid TV shows that are going to raise adrenaline levels, and consider taking a warm bath before you go to bed.
Even though it might seem like your sobriety might be challenged during the coronavirus event, there are several steps to take to ensure that your recovery remains your number one priority.
Are Rehabs Still Operating During Coronavirus?
For individuals who have decided to obtain treatment for a substance use disorder, or for those who may have relapsed, the residential rehab programs are still operation, as these are considered essential businesses related to healthcare. To protect clients in treatment, rehab centers have made some important adaptations. If you are in need of residential treatment, Next Level Recovery has incorporated the following safety provisions for stopping the spread of COVID-19:
- Has implemented an infection control plan that is aligned with the CDC and local health department guidelines. All contact surfaces are being disinfected every 30 minutes, and ample sanitizing supplies are readily available.
- All clients and visitors will be screened for the symptoms of COVID-19.
- All staff members have been trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. These common symptoms include a low-grade fever (100.4 degrees or above), a dry cough, and difficulty breathing.
- Clients and staff members will be required to stay home if they are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms.
- Urging all personnel to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from each other
- Providing access to teleconference/telehealth platforms between 9am-9pm to deliver therapeutic services for clients who are unable to attend sessions in person due to illness.
Having access to treatment is even more important during an event like the coronavirus pandemic. Stress levels are high, which can agitate co-occurring mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, and that can lead to increased levels of substance abuse. If you are in need of interventions do not avoid getting the help you need.
Next Level Recovery Offers Recovery Services Near Salt Lake City
Next Level Recovery is a full-spectrum addiction recovery complex in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Next Level has been proactive in making the necessary adjustments to ensure safety at its residential center and sober living housing. In addition, we are still accepting new clients and offering telehealth services for individuals seeing evaluation and guidance. During this stressful time in history, protect your wellness and put recovery first. Call Next Level Recovery today at (888) 759-5846.