Did you know that globally some 36 million people are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders? You are not alone.

COVID-19 presents challenges for all of us, but those struggling with addiction are particularly vulnerable during this time. Not only does this change how you receive help, but the effects of uncertainty and stress could also trigger a relapse for those already in recovery.

Social support and active involvement in a program play a huge role in recovery and widespread shutdowns and social distancing measures have made it difficult for those seeking treatment. Truth is, addiction is a daily struggle and the tools on which you normally rely on have changed. The good news is that there is help out there. Rehab facilities, treatment centres, support meetings, and individual therapy sessions have become virtual, where many providers are offering telephonic and online assistance.

Finding support during this difficult time is essential for both your mental and physical health. So, if you’re struggling, be sure to talk to your doctor or a mental health expert. In addition to direct care, they can help to bring you in contact with online resources.

Continuing the effort you’ve already put into recovery is crucial.

Here are a few strategies for reducing the risk of a relapse:

  • Embrace physical distance, not emotional distance. Avoid isolation. Talk to your sponsor, counsellor or therapist, and reach out to family and friends for encouragement and support. Check out virtual support recommendations or start your own virtual group. Be accountable.
  • Stick to a daily routine. Without structure, you will struggle. Anxiety, depression and fear can lead to unhealthy habits such as alcohol and drugs that offer immediate relief. You don’t have to plan every minute of your day of course, but try to develop a consistent schedule. Find time to take a walk, cook your meals, and pursue something that keeps you engaged.
  • Try to eat balanced, nutritious meals to boost happy hormones, fuel your brain, and boost your immune system. That being said, if you’re finding it difficult to eat, there’s no shame in eating what makes you happy … at least for now.
  • Listen to recovery podcasts, read blogs, or talk to others in recovery.
  • Make time for self-care. If you’re not up for exercising, take a hike or follow a workout video. Engage in healthy hobbies; YouTube offers plenty of how-to videos. Catching up on a few shows on Netflix is totally acceptable too. Be kind to yourself.
  • Hold on to hope. Self-compassion is a key aspect of recovery. Don’t allow shame, guilt or anger to hold you back. Addiction is a disease and recovery is a process. List your goals and keep them where you can see them. And, if you do experience a relapse, offer yourself forgiveness instead of judgement. Honour the progress you’ve made instead of viewing yourself as a failure.

No matter how challenging things might feel right now, you’ve come a long way. Respecting your journey so far and continuing to work toward the future can help you stay grounded.

Remember, you are not weak for struggling, you are strong for continuing to fight.

Source: kansascity.com, webmd.com, forbes.com, phillyvoice.com, southcoastherald.co.za, oceanrecoverycentre.com, unodc.org, healthline.com, about.kaiserpermanente.org, medicine.umich.edu, ehstoday.com, addictioncenter.com, verywellmind.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.