Submitted to OnFocus – The isolation brought on by social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic can be hard on anyone. But it may be especially tough for people in recovery from a substance use disorder.
Face-to-face support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) may be canceled to prevent the spread of the virus. And the isolation you may feel from social distancing can stoke feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. All these things can make it harder to stay away from alcohol and drugs.
“First and foremost, it’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone,” said Nicki Williams, MSW, APSW, Aspirus Director of Behavioral Health. “Addiction can take many forms. With treatment and available recovery resources, individuals can thrive and live their best life.”
If you’re in recovery and worried about a relapse, groups like AA and Narcotics Anonymous have virtual meetings. Simply search online for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
During National Recovery Month, Williams offers some tips to help continue with a successful recovery:
- Call your health care provider’s office. Find out if they offer telemedicine appointments. You might be able to stay in touch with your doctor online using an app like Skype or FaceTime.
- Work with your provider to be sure you have any medications you need.
- Are you in recovery for opioid use? Find out if your treatment program can be more flexible about take-home medicine during the pandemic.
- Stay connected to family, friends or your sponsor by phone, email, or social media.
- Be open with loved ones about how you are feeling and what you need to stay on track. Would it be helpful if they brought you books? Movies? Newspapers?
- Use healthy coping tactics. Practice deep breathing. Meditate. Do things you enjoy. Keep a journal and write down things you are grateful for.
- If you do relapse during this stressful time, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Work with your provider to find out why you relapsed. You may need to revise your treatment program.
“Recovery is possible,” Williams said. “With strength and support from family, friends and loved ones, we are all resilient.”
If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse or have concerns about staying on the path of recovery, you should contact your provider right away.
Aspirus Behavioral Health operates an outpatient clinic at Aspirus Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids. It is staffed by psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, nurses, licensed clinical social workers, counselors, and support professionals. To schedule an appointment, please call 715.422.9319. If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
For more information, visit https://www.aspirus.org/mental-health-treatment-counseling
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