Staying Well in Addiction Recovery during Covid-19
The impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on those in addiction recovery are broad. There are many recommendations given to those who are both starting out in recovery and seeking to maintain their recovery. Some of these are now more difficult to achieve within this new crisis context we are living in. Meetings have shutdown temporarily; internal crises levels may have peaked; many significant life changes have happened instantaneously; many feel isolated. How can we keep it simple when the world has become overwhelming, some may ask?
Lower Your Expectations of Yourself
In the early days of recovery I always say to people, “All you have to do today is to get an abstinent head on your pillow tonight, anything else that you do is a bonus but abstinence is the number one and will facilitate all of the rest.” Whether you are new or in long-term recovery, it may be helpful to keep it this simple. Social media posts and whatsapps groups may be full of what seems to be highly productive people, but this is not the full picture. Trust how you are spending your time today and remember that staying abstinent within a hugely unsettling time is AMAZING all by itself.
The mindset we start our morning with can set the tone for the day. Choose a few grounding or positivity boosting activities to start off your morning and do them no matter what. Some ideas include: pray for 5 minutes, meditate with the Headspace app, go for a walk or a run, dance for 10 minutes, read your daily reader, write free-flow for 10 minutes. Keep it simple. Hazelden Inspirations is a great daily reader app that you can download for free on your phone. Alternatively, you can also find daily readings here: https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/thought-for-the-day
The opposite of addiction is connection. Whilst face-to-face meetings are wonderful, online options are an excellent plan B for now.
There are hundreds of online skype meetings available details of which can be found on the website of the specific fellowship (e.g. aa.org, na-ireland.org, oa.org). If some feel too crowded for you, keep trying until you find a quieter one. Make a point to send a text, make a short call, or leave voice notes regularly to fellows in recovery. This helps to stay away from isolation and is a gift to others, who may be struggling.
Get Busy at Home
Having a daily action plan can be a helpful guide for your day. Your daily template could include exercise, reading, a work-based activity, project or creative activity, social time, TV/ Netflix time, getting outdoors and a recovery-based action. Keeping it simple is key. Variety is helpful and remember, that no matter what you do or don’t do today, it’s not about achieving what’s on the plan, it is simply a way to engage yourself to support your wellbeing right now.
Reach out for Extra Support
If you are finding it difficult to cope and would like the support of a counsellor, Let’s Get Talking are a non-set fee charity organisation who offer counselling and psychotherapy sessions nationally via online video or telephone. They have a strong team of therapists who specialise in addiction recovery and are experienced in multiple other areas that can support you.
If you have never gone through the 12 steps before with a sponsor now might be the ideal time to do that if you have spare time to fill. Step-work helps those in recovery to recognise and let go of character traits and relationship dynamics that have been continually causing havoc in their lives. Counselling and psychotherapy are other avenues that can help with personal development work if you wish to explore deeper rooted issues right now. Most therapists and organisations are offering telephone and online video therapy and many at low rates.