what to do if you relapse during the pandemic?

COVID-19 has created unprecedented circumstances of isolation that can spell disaster for those undergoing or considering addiction treatment. With multiple states and cities issuing shelter-in-place regulations and enforcing social distancing policies, it’s time to discuss the realities of dealing with addiction treatment during the coronavirus pandemic. 

While many business and public places have been shut down in response to health and safety concerns, you cannot put addiction treatment on pause. Many patients are having to find new routines and ways to stay faithful to their addiction treatments, which is difficult enough without the added stress of dealing with COVID-19, the possible loss of their jobs or homes, and worrying about sending their kids back to school or considering homeschooling in the fall. 

The Difficulties of Addiction Treatment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Addiction recovery is a difficult process even in the best of times. Different levels and types of treatments work best for different people. AA, medicine, therapy, rehab, or any combination of these options work with varying levels of success for different people. Long-term recovery usually means trying out all of the options and figuring out what works best for you. There is no right or wrong way to recover from addiction – the recovery plan that works is the one you can stick with. 

With shutdowns and social distancing, rehab and AA meetings have been restructured as quickly as possible to accommodate virtual meetings rather than in-person ones. The problem with that adaptation is that many people in AA do not have access to reliable internet or cannot afford the technology needed to tap into it. And with the libraries closed, there are very few ways to access it for free. 

Pharmacies require social distancing as well, and if you have to quarantine alone, you may not have a way to access your medications. This can cause withdrawals and anxiety that lead to relapse. Therapy has also shifted to a virtual model, but again if there is no internet access there is no way to complete your sessions.

This “new normal” leaves thousands with no weekly meetings, no social support, no way to find help, and way too much time alone on their hands – it’s a recipe for relapse. 

Tips For Avoiding Relapse During COVID-19 Isolation

So how do you ensure that you won’t relapse? We’ve compiled a list of tips that will hopefully help you deal with your anxiety, stress, and the uncertainty of the times to mitigate the likelihood that you’ll feel the need to turn to your substance of choice. 

Believe in Yourself

This feels like very corny advice to many people, but if you’ve made it into recovery thus far, remind yourself to celebrate how far you’ve come. Addiction is an illness. It’s a compulsion. Every day you go without imbibing is a success story of its own! 

Keep a running count on your fridge or mirror – “___ Days Sober.” Having this visual reminder can help remind you to be proud of yourself.  And if that number is 1? That deserves celebrating too. Recovery is a journey, a process – not a final destination. And you have to forgive yourself to move on and do better.

Make Positive Life Changes

If you’re trapped at home, make some changes to your routine that keep you busy and bring you joy. Loneliness and boredom are huge risk factors for relapse. Try any of these that appeal to you:

  • Start a garden or plant some houseplants
  • Exercise – go for a short stroll every day just to be outside
  • Schedule time to talk to your friends, your family, or your sponsor if you have one
  • Consider a pet if you can afford it and you have the space to keep them happy (goldfish can be an excellent choice)
  • Pick up a new hobby – bake, craft, sew, play a game, read a book, do a puzzle

No matter what you do, try to find the small joys and reach out for help if you feel yourself slipping. If you don’t have friends or family, or you feel uncomfortable talking to them about your addiction, contact a local hotline. There is always an alternative to imbibing. 

If you have any questions about addiction treatment during the Coronavirus pandemic, contact the Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center. We can help you find the help you need.