Currently, our entire world is amidst a global pandemic. As a result, citizens across the nation are stocking up on food and household necessities in order to prepare themselves to self-quarantine. Being isolated from friends and family is difficult for anyone. However, for those of us in addiction recovery, this means that we will not have access to some of the vital daily tools we use to maintain our sobriety. Staying sober during a pandemic can be difficult, but it is possible.
Many alcoholics and addicts build their foundation of recovery upon attending recovery meetings, socializing with fellow recovering addicts, and meeting with sober supports. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attending recovery meetings or even just grabbing coffee with sober support is not an option. Unfortunately, this means that many individuals in recovery may begin to romanticize the idea of drinking or using drugs again. However, many men and women in sobriety have started to get creative in regards to how they maintain their recovery.
12 Step Meetings Find a New Platform
Many alcoholics and addicts depend on 12-step meetings to maintain their recovery. 12 step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, provide group members with a much-needed sense of accountability. Additionally, these meetings allow members to find like-minded individuals who understand addiction and can provide the support needed to recover.
However, organizations like the CDC and the WHO are pleading U.S. citizens to avoid groups of people and practice social distancing. To explain, social distancing is defined as creating physical distance between individuals who do not live together. For many communities, this entails canceling events that create medium to large groups of people. For example, closing schools, workplaces, shopping malls, and large events. Unfortunately, this means that going to recovery meetings, which can have anywhere from 20 to 200 people in attendance, can no longer meet in person.
Luckily, there are still ways for people to attend 12 step meetings. Let’s take Alcoholics Anonymous, for example. The intergroup of this organization has begun to take action by closing down offices while planning to hold meetings through phone calls. Additionally, online meetings are available on both the intergroup and local levels. If you have a favorite local AA or NA meeting, you may be able to attend a meeting via Skype, Zoom, or Conference call.
What Does the Coronavirus Self-Quarantine Entail?
One aspect of the COVID-19 outbreak that many recovering addicts are worried about is self-quarantine. Currently, many people are being asked to work at home or being laid off unless they are considered an essential worker. While the list of essential services is relatively long, the amount of non-essential services is pretty high as well.
Services considered essential during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Health care, public health, human services
- Law enforcement, public safety, first responders
- Food and agriculture services
- Energy and electric industries
- Petroleum, natural gas, propane, and other liquid fuel industries
- Water and wastewater infrastructures
- Transportation and logistics
- Public works and infrastructure support services
- Communications and information technology
- Other community-, education-, or government-based operations
- Critical manufacturing and construction
- Hazardous materials
- Financial services
- Residential/shelter facilities and services
- Hygiene products and services
If you are not employed in one of the above industries, you are most likely stuck at home. Quick runs to the grocery store or doctor visits are okay, but socializing is out of the question. As a result, many people are beginning to experience feelings of loneliness, especially recovering addicts.
How to Adapt to “Quarantine Life” as a Recovering Addict
Due to the indefinite period of self-quarantine that we are all facing, recovering addicts must adapt quickly. One of the most important aspects of many people’s recovery is staying connected with vital support groups. Therefore, it is plain to see how self-quarantining can be problematic for recovering addicts and alcoholics. Luckily, there are several things to do that will make your time at home enriching, rather than detrimental.
Listen to Recovery Speakers Online
For starters, start listening to recovery speakers online. This is a great way to feel as if you attended a meeting without even having to leave your couch. Luckily, there are tons of websites online that have thousands of recorded talks performed by speakers who are knowledgable and experienced in recovery. Content like this can allow you to gain inspiration and new insight on your own personal recovery.
Next, stay connected with your family, support groups, and your sponsor. This could just mean a simple phone call to vent or attending online 12-step meetings. Whatever you choose, doing so will reinforce accountability into your life. Additionally, if you start to feel anxious or alone, talking to loved ones is always a great remedy.
Staying busy is equally important for recovering addicts who are self-quarantining. Being isolated could sabotage all of your efforts if you do not take it seriously. Most importantly, keep drugs and alcohol out of your house during this time. Instead of succumbing to cravings, pick up a new (indoor) hobby.
Reach Out for Help
Lastly, never be afraid to ask for help. With the days ahead being uncertain, many people are becoming increasingly anxious for the future. Be prepared to contact your therapist, former treatment center or your sponsor when times get tough. Most of us are not experienced in staying sober during a pandemic. Therefore, needing help is never weak. In fact, it proves that you are strong enough to let go of your pride and make some important changes.
Stay Safe from COVID-19
The CDC and the WHO have released information on how to remain safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Safety protocols include:
- Clean your hands often (washing for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick or people you do not live with.
- Put distance between yourself and other people (self-quarantine).
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis (light switches, doorknobs, phones, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks).
If you continue to follow safety protocols and prioritize your recovery, you will make it through this. At Ohio Arc, we hope that everyone in recovery is staying safe and sober during this pandemic. We will continue to follow the CDC and WHO guidelines in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak. Most importantly, if you need help or additional resources, please contact us immediately.