Tips to Help Avoid Relapse During Quarantine
Coronavirus and sheltering in place orders introduce new risks for those with addiction. Sheltering in place removes the safeguards taught in recovery. Isolation, anxiety, depression, and cravings can form the perfect storm for relapse while sheltering in place. The fear of an unknown and unseen virus that can kill induces feelings of loss of control and hopelessness.
Not being able to interact with the usual support of social means to stay sober can create problems. The feeling of being all alone is insidious. Reaching out to others, including meeting with sober coaches and counselors, is difficult when in self-isolation. The loss of the social and therapeutic networks while sheltering in place is stressful, but there are ways to prevent relapse.
Relapse Triggers While Sheltering in Place
Self-isolation can be tedious. The following are potential relapse triggers:
- Being bored can lead to falling into old behaviors
- Lack of contact with peers creates a feeling of loneliness
- Stress caused by coronavirus can lead to drinking or using substances
- Loss of external accountability leads to a feeling of being able to slip without repercussions
Ways to Avoid Relapse
Sobriety is a source of pride. Overcoming the odds and building positive social networks isn’t easy. That’s why it’s essential to try to find ways to avoid relapse in this unprecedented time. While it may be tempting to try and prevent being self-isolated, don’t risk your health or the health of other people by violating self-isolation regulations. Instead, focus on what you can do to continue the positive behaviors you learned through counseling and groups. Some of the tools learned in recovery can include:
- A physical activity – yoga, running, walking
- Art – painting, writing music, sketching
Recognizing fear is a critical tool to help individuals stay sober. The fear of the unknown can drive those with addictions to fall back on the coping mechanisms that initially led to addiction. However, there are ways to combat anxiety with online groups.
Find a Group Gathering
The coronavirus doesn’t mean group gatherings are impossible. We live in a world where online recovery groups and organizations focused on sobriety are easily accessible. Group meetings with organizations such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous hold group meetings online.
There are also ways to keep in touch with a sponsor and a therapist without physical contact, such as over the phone or through a video chat. Video-conferencing apps make it even easier to talk with someone who can help prevent relapse. Find a Zoom group that meets at times that are convenient for you. Seek out local online gatherings.
These groups will meet even after self-isolation regulations relax. Local groups mean closer sober buddies and more accountability to your recovery. The added benefit of counselors, therapists, and medical staff members at treatment centers using telemedicine, is that it allows individuals to contact their counselor or therapist quickly.
Online meetings, talks, and social activities cannot replace in-person visits, but they are a means of helping prevent relapse. Being stuck in a house, maybe in a different city, adds stress. The routine created by in-person group meetings or counseling sessions is hard to replace. The grounding feelings lost in self-isolation include pre-meeting setup and talking. There are ways to substitute those comfort habits. You can:
Create a pre-video conference chat room. In these chat rooms, take the time to set up a chair, make coffee, and talk with those in the room.
- As self-isolation rules relax, plan socially-distant small groups. Recovery is more natural with support.
- Check your treatment center’s schedule to see if they have resumed appointments and groups by implementing social distancing protocols.
- Schedule appointments with your counselor or therapist. If you are worried about health precautions, ask if the facility is following all health regulations.
Discover New Things
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be difficult. Finding something new that engages you may take a few tries. Take some time to sit down and think about what you are interested in learning to do. Participating in new activities engages a different part of the brain. When learning new things, the brain is involved in the new activity and doesn’t have time to focus on old behaviors.
Sites such as EDX and Coursera offer online classes from major universities. Check them out to see if they have anything you are interested in studying. Finishing a course that increases your skills and knowledge in your chosen career or starts you on the path of a new career can be exciting.
Are you interested in learning more about different types of spirituality? First, what is spirituality? According to Vocabulary.com, “Spirituality has to do with the spirit, not as in ghosts, but as in the essence of being human — your soul or your inner life. […] Religions usually have defined beliefs, rituals, and guidelines; spirituality is more individual.” Go online and explore all the different types of spirituality.
Any movement helps shift the brain’s attention while also giving you a new hobby to enjoy. Are you wondering what activities you can do at home? Try one of these suggestions or find something of interest to you.
- Writing or journaling
You’re Not Alone
Self-isolation can sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be scary. You’re not alone. There are several ways to stay in touch with sober friends, addiction recovery communities, and therapists. Find ways to combat boredom by trying new things.
Self-isolation gives us the chance to learn more, be more, and experience more. Through technology like computers, tablets, and smartphones, we have the world at our fingertips. We can connect with groups, both local and national, via video-conferencing, Zoom, online chat rooms, or through helplines. While human contact is currently restricted, conversation is not. Pick up the phone and call someone. Talk with your therapist through telemedicine. Facetime your friends, mentor, sober coach, or family. Use everything available to you to stave off feelings of boredom, depression, loneliness, and cravings. Learn new things, stay active, remain engaged in what interests you. Build up your resume in order to ask for a promotion or a pay raise. Start a college degree or training in a new career field. There is a world of opportunity, hope, and help. Reach out to social groups that support recovery, and use your Treatment Center’s telemedicine options to do everything you can to maintain your sobriety. At Achieve Medical Center, we are available 24/7. Contact us today at (858) 221-0344.