The coronavirus pandemic has exerted enormous pressure on our society and forced a whole host of changes to how we live, work and socialise. For recovering addicts and alcoholics, remaining clean and sober in a post-pandemic world will not be without its challenges.
Many of us now have the opportunity to do things we have missed and longed for since measures were implemented at the end of March 2020: whether it’s seeing friends and family, socialising again, going to restaurants or back to the workplace. These changes are largely positive, but for some addicts and alcoholics, there may be a feeling of anxiety or concern at the thought of re-engaging with the world. As Covid-19 positive cases have continued to soar in recent weeks, so too have rates of mental illness, drug and alcohol misuse across the country. Evidently, there is a direct link between the pandemic and poor mental health, especially anxiety, depression and increased addiction rates.
As the world reopens over the next few months and restrictions ease further, experts are predicting a further rise in new cases of addiction and mental health disorders. They also believe we will see an increase in relapse rates for those in recovery, as people struggle to adapt to the ‘new normal’ we are living in. “Recent events can be particularly stressful and triggering for those individuals struggling with an addiction, whether that is food, alcohol, drugs or gambling” one research fellow explained. “The reality of our new, post-pandemic world may lead many to resort to old coping mechanisms and destructive patterns of behaviour. The risk of relapse is very real.”
One example given was how as restaurants and bars re-open, those who struggle with food or alcohol might be triggered by the availability of food and alcohol in social settings which they aren’t used to. High-stress situations such as financial insecurity and worry, adapting to new rules and guidelines, working from home or adapting to working in a new environment as well as trying to find new employment can all trigger a potential relapse.
Top tips for remaining clean and sober
As we begin to rebuild a life of normality, there are many lessons we can learn from our experiences since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst there has been so much hardship and heartbreak, there has also been an increasing emphasis on conversations around mental health and addiction.
These discussions have led to a tremendous awareness around mental health, which can only help to reduce the stigma and shame that often surrounds these disorders. Many will still be struggling, whether it’s with addiction or any other issue. Here are some practical and simple tips to help you cope, on a daily basis, as we all navigate through this new way of living post-pandemic.
1. Get a Support Network
Building a strong support network in recovery may not always be as easy as it sounds. But it is crucial to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse. Unfortunately, not all of your old friends should be welcomed back into your life in recovery. Their lifestyles are sadly not conducive to your new sober life – and you need people who will support it. Why not reach out to those who attend the same 12 step meetings you do, who might have a better understanding of what you are going through, or who can help when things get hard.
Rebuilding relationships with family and friends is so important too: chances are your behaviour pushed those closest to you away during active addiction. These same people could play a brilliant part in your support network in recovery, so make the effort to reconnect.
Communicating your needs, feelings and thoughts, is a very difficult task for most addicts and alcoholics. Many of us are used to internalising difficult feelings or unmet needs, rather than reaching out for help from others. In early recovery especially, being vulnerable and asking for help is key to staying on track. You don’t need to go through this alone.
Communication is key to building strong, healthy relationships in recovery. Be specific about what you need – people are not mind readers! If you’re going through something hard, try to at least have 1 or 2 people whom you can call or send a message. You’ll be surprised just how normal your feelings are, and you’re bound to feel better for sharing your problem.
Our private rehabilitation clinic aims to treat each individual as a whole: the physical, the spiritual, the emotional and the social. Despite all the support and guidance provided in a treatment programme, ultimately, it is down to the individual themselves to maintain their own lives and their recovery. In the end, it is up to each one of us to stay happy and healthy.
Self-care can often be confused for pampering and indulgent activities like massages, spa trips, or going to the nail salon. in reality however, self-care can be as simple as running a hot bath, cooking yourself a balanced, nutritious meal, or calling a fried when you’re feeling low. Self-care needs to work for you and you alone. It might incorporate daily exercise, good sleep hygiene, or yoga classes if that helps you relax. Self-care is so important if we are to stay balanced and healthy both emotionally and physically.
Exercise is a powerful tool for self-care and for maintaining recovery. It can be a great way to improve both physical and mental health. It reduces stress, helps you sleep and prevents weight gain too. Many addicts and alcoholics struggle to regulate their emotions and exercise is a great way to combat this. Simply getting outdoors and getting some fresh air can improve mood levels and re energise you.
Physical activity can assist people striving to maintain sobriety – when dealing with stressors that can result in relapse, choosing to exercise for even just 30 minutes a day can reduce triggers and cravings to use drugs or alcohol, or engage in other self-destructive behaviours.
5. Take up a new hobby or activity
Join something new! It will help you remain engaged and upbeat as you navigate through recovery. The process of recovery is at times difficult and tiresome, so mixing with new friends in a new circle who do different things in their spare time, can really help. Staying busy helps to limit any negative feelings that build up when bored or lacking in purpose.
Why not try your hand at a yoga or cookery class? Volunteering is a brilliant hobby too – it gives you a sense of contributing to society, and shifts the focus away from self and onto helping and thinking of others first.
Addiction treatment during Covid-19
Covid-19 has led to widespread concerns about the accessibility of addiction treatment. Some people may feel unsafe at the thought of entering a rehab or detox facility with other members of the public, and others may have increased financial concerns and insecurities as a result of the pandemic. Here at the Providence Projects we wish to reassure you that seeking addiction treatment today, whether for yourself or a loved one, is as important as ever. In fact, it may be even more pressing now due to soaring rates of mental health problems following coronavirus.
We are committed to providing safe, effective, and successful treatment to all our clients, and we have implemented a range of safety measures and procedures to ensure we continue to provide the same standard of treatment that we have been successfully delivering since 1996. Our residential rehab and detox clinic, on England’s beautiful south coast in Bournemouth, offers an oasis of peace and calm for clients to recover. Our treatment facility is one of the best in the country, and our google reviews and social media presence is testament to this. Just have a look at our Facebook page, or search our name on google to find out about other people’s experiences at our rehab clinic.
Call us today on 0800 955 0945 to find out more about our alcohol, drug and gambling rehab programmes, as well as our detox centre. Our programmes last anywhere from 4 weeks up to 6 months, and we cater to most addictions and mental health disorders, as well as co-occurring disorders. We look forward to hearing from you.