The United States is currently the epicenter of a global pandemic caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the largest and, perhaps, most dangerous public health crisis of the last 100 years. This can be especially complicated for those who require drug and alcohol addiction support during the pandemic.
State, county, and local governments across the nation are urging people to stay in their homes, if at all possible, and to practice “social distancing” from others if they must be out for essential errands or work.
These “stay at home” guidelines are meant to slow the spread of this highly contagious disease and, hopefully, keep hospitals and health care workers from being completely overrun by a crush of new cases.
The stress, fear and anxiety brought on by this ongoing epidemic is intense for everyone, but for those struggling with mental health disorders or drug and alcohol addiction issues it can be even more difficult to cope.
Fortunately, it is possible to find drug and alcohol addiction support during a global pandemic.
What are the Dangers of Self-Isolating?
Extended periods of social isolation, even in the absence of a global pandemic, can lead to a number of negative feelings and symptoms.
To combat these problems, it’s important to remember that we’re not alone. The whole country, including our closest community members, friends and family are experiencing the very same issues.
The uncertainty brought on during this time is among the biggest cause of fear and anxiety. Many health care experts worry that people from all walks life may self-medicate with alcohol or other available drugs and medications.
Remember, excessive amounts of alcohol, and even certain drugs, can suppress the immune system making a person more susceptible to illness.
An increase in alcohol consumption or other drug use might not have a huge impact on the life of someone who doesn’t suffer from the disease of addiction, when society finally returns to normal.
However, for a person in recovery from addiction, or an individual in the throes of substance abuse, prolonged isolation can tip the scales and endanger their lives by pushing them over the edge.
Even those with mental health issues could be at risk for intensifying conditions of stress, anxiety, depression, or PTSD while trying to endure endless days of isolation.
Tips for People Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol Who are Not in Recovery Yet
The bad news of a being isolated during a global pandemic is that it could be used as an excuse for people with a substance dependence to find comfort in drugs or alcohol.
The good news is that addiction treatment centers are considered “essential businesses” because they tend to the health and welfare of the general population and many of them are still operating.
Ironically, the coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity for people struggling with addiction issues to get treatment in a medically supervised environment with a small population and in a safe place to ride out the quarantine.
Additionally, most people are now forced to stay home from work, and a majority of businesses and public places are closed.
This is an ideal time for people to get sober by going to treatment because it alleviates the fear of missing work or other events for a 30 to 60 day period.
By the time that day-to-day life returns to normal, a person that sought addiction treatment during this period of social isolation may be able to return to life with a fresh, new start.
While many people are using self-isolation to stay at home to clean their houses, read books, or binge on Neflix, those who are suffering from addiction issues could use this time to get sober.
Tips for People Already in Recovery For Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Though it may be hard, it’s crucial for those in recovery to make a commitment to not to give in to the temptation to use drugs and alcohol during this scary and stressful period.
One of the most effective ways to combat these emotional psychological triggers is to maintain a healthy routine during self-isolation or quarantine.
For those in recovery, it can be difficult to attend support group meetings because most have cancelled the daily or weekly face-to-face meetings.
Luckily, there are quite a number of online recovery resources that can supplement regular support meetings that have been put on hold as a result of the pandemic.
Where to Find Addiction Support Meetings Online
For those who completed a residential treatment program, check with your therapists to see if they offer tele-health or online support programs for alumni.
People who regularly attend support group meetings should stay in contact with their sponsor or others from the group by phone or email.
Zoom is extremely popular for self-help groups and is one of the most frequently used options to hold group meetings today. To get started using it, visit the Zoom Help Center for tips to get started on a Mac or Windows computer.
The image above is a screenshot from a Zoom SMART Recovery Meeting Online. Find More Info Here.
Google Hangouts is another free and popular choice for putting together online meetings. The Google Hangouts How To page makes it easy to get started.
Sober Buddy is a free email service for drug and alcohol recovery support and details can be found at YourSoberBuddy.com.
Free Conference Call is a service that provides just that, a quick and easy way to create free conference calls for anyone that needs to chat with a group of people. At the end of the call, the service provides an email summary of who attended the call and how long they were on. It can even record calls for later use. Find out more at Free Conference Call.
There are also many resources online to search for AA, NA, or SMART Recovery meetings to attend. To get started visit:
It is incumbent upon each of us, now and in normal times, to protect and nurture our mental health and addiction issues.
Take this time to ruminate on the techniques learned in treatment, to reach out to friends, a sponsor, or join a new support group.
Staying at home and self-isolating does not have to endanger your sobriety. It might even provide the perfect chance to deepen and enrich your recovery.