Addiction and isolation often go hand in hand. Anyone who has been touched by addiction knows this all too well. Whether impacted directly by having an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or substance use disorder (SUD) yourself, or being close to someone who does, the isolation that accompanies addiction can be brutal. And, according to research, social isolation is one of the leading contributors to relapse.
Today, many in the United States and across the globe, have come to understand isolation a bit more. Due to the impact of COVID-19, many who otherwise would never have isolated, have been forced into isolation. The impact on those in recovery and those still in active addiction has been tremendous.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an AUD or SUD there is hope. No matter how bleak your situation may seem, many in the same place have taken the first brave step and sought help. Futures Recovery Healthcare offers comprehensive care for the complicated disease of addiction—even amidst COVID-19.
COVID-19, caused by a coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, forced what we once considered ‘normal’ lives, to take a new turn. Gone are the days of sitting at a concert, watching a movie at the theater, and for many even attending school in person. Our social connections have all but diminished and even those who weren’t plagued by AUD or SUD are facing social isolation previously unknown.
For many who have an addiction or love someone with an addiction, this has created a dangerous situation. And while the data on this remains limited, anyone who is involved with addiction in any way knows all too well the toll the social isolation caused by COVID-19 is taking on those both in recovery and those actively misusing alcohol or a substance.
Mental Health, Social Isolation, and Relapse
Addiction treatment centers across the nation are seeing an increase in clients who are returning due to a relapse. And this comes as no surprise. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), confirmed this in an interview with U.S. News and World Report, “Whenever there’s been a catastrophe like this, there is an increase in drug consumption across the board. Our alcohol drinking goes up, smoking goes up, and people relapse.”
COVID-19 has impacted everyone across our nation and world. The uncertainty and fear that are now a part of every day can have negative consequences on mental health. Many of these issues are anxiety and depression. From actually being sick with COVID-19 to loss of income, the concerns faced by many are causing anxiety in individuals previously strangers to this.
Thousands of students from elementary school up to and including college are now attending school online, parents are struggling to either work from home and support schooling efforts, or have entirely lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet.
Others have lost their outlets to relieve stress. Gyms, movie theaters, and restaurants are either closed or working on a limited capacity. Entertainment such as professional sports and concerts have come to a halt as well.
All of this, coupled with the uncertain future we all face, has propelled many into anxiety and depression. For those who already are prone to or suffer from either of these sometimes debilitating mental health disorders, the situation is even worse.
As the pandemic continues, so too does the anxiety. And for those in recovery from an AUD or SUD the normal support system once used may be gone. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Celebrate Recovery, and Refuge Recovery are unable to meet or have limited meetings. This presents a huge concern for those in recovery who rely on these groups to help sustain recovery.
For many, this is also where they socialize, connect, and form bonds with others. When there are no meetings, isolation can begin to take hold. Along with the isolation comes more anxiety and depression. This can lead to picking up alcohol or a substance to help ease the discomfort and cope with the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety or depression.
Isolation during COVID-19 also brings with it boredom. Sitting at home day after day, week after week with none or very limited social interactions or entertainment can lead to boredom. And for many in recovery, this boredom can be dangerous and is when a relapse can occur.
Sustaining Recovery in COVID-19
Relapse, although increasing during COVID-19, doesn’t have to happen despite how anxious, depressed, or isolated you are. If you or someone you love is in recovery and struggling during the challenges of COVID-19, there is help and support.
Although recovery may look different right now, it is possible. Not only can you continue to live in sustained recovery, but you can also even find ways to enjoy life. It may require a change in perspective, however, it is possible.
If you have relapsed, seeking treatment at an addiction treatment center with a strong alumni group is key, especially during this difficult time. Futures Recovery Healthcare has been committed to creating a vibrant alumni group since day one. The alumni groups at Futures meet throughout the year and even offer Days of Ascent. During this two day period, those who have completed clinical treatment and are actively sober are welcomed back to engage in workshops, clinical groups, and activities with current clients. This helps to ‘recharge’ recovery and is a coveted experience by the Futures alumni.
In addition, many support groups like AA and NA have moved to both online meetings and in some places outdoor meetings. Although it’s not the same as being in person, attending these meetings can make a big difference in staying sober during COVID-19. And while there are some disadvantages with online meetings, some of the advantages include being able to join meetings from anywhere, being in meetings with people from all over the world, and getting out of your comfort zone—also vital to long term recovery.
Taking the first step to getting help for an AUD or SUD takes courage and at least a bit of hope. Sustaining recovery during COVID-19 does too. Although things look different today and the future remains uncertain, long-lasting recovery is possible and you can stay sober—or get started on the road to recovery—even during a pandemic.
If you or someone you love needs help for an AUD or SUD, Futures is here for you. Contact us confidentiality online or call 866-804-2098.