Being stuck in quarantine during the coronavirus epidemic can present a lot of challenges. Trying to achieve and maintain sobriety, while living alone in isolation and unable to attend A.A. meetings, for example, prove to be major obstacles faced by many recovering addicts and alcoholics during these difficult times. Discover ways that you can maintain your sobriety while being stuck at home is crucial to avoid the risk of relapsing.
Higher Risk of Drinking Under Quarantine
Being in isolation can lead to anxiety and leave us feeling powerless. We want to be able to see our peers and go to work as usual, but circumstances beyond our control are stopping us. Choosing healthy behaviors during these times can feel difficult, and numbing emotions with a quick fix often feels like the easier option. This is an unprecedented time, during which we don’t necessarily have a clearly defined ending point in sight. Right now, we are still living with the changes and the uncertainty of when things will go back to normal. Because this pandemic is interfering with our freedom, many feel trapped, seeking solace in the old familiar ways of unwinding that were conducive to isolation in the past: drinking alcohol.
How You Know Your Drinking is a Problem
If you feel like alcohol is controlling you instead of the other way around, it may be time to consider seeking help. First, however, you must be honest with yourself about how much you are drinking instead of making excuses that you do not have any other choice. Alcohol is never the answer to ease your anxiety or boredom. Think about the emotions you are experiencing when you are drinking. If you feel anxious and you automatically reach for an alcoholic beverage, it shows that you are using alcohol as a coping mechanism. You may also feel like you cannot relax without a drink in your hand. Ask yourself if social distancing has created an anxiety that is so difficult to cope with that you feel like you need alcohol to make those feelings go away. While drinking may serve as an immediate fix, it can create long-term problems. The coronavirus pandemic is temporary, and it will pass. Unfortunately, alcohol dependency won’t go away with it.
Virtual A.A. Meetings
You know that you need to go to a meeting, but the coronavirus is causing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the government to implement social distancing practices. This means that it is important not to touch other people as well as be in venues where there are more than 50 people gathered at a time, which has caused restaurants, businesses, department stores, and even churches where A.A. meetings take place to shut down.
Just because Alcoholics Anonymous meetings have shut down does not mean that you should give up on your recovery. Meetings have now gone virtual. The General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous has announced that the US and Canada are holding meetings through websites like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and through conference calls. A.A. groups also have contact lists to stay connected through phone calls, emails, and social media networks. Virtual A.A. meetings have proven very useful, as you can attend a meeting online at any hour of the day as a way of taking your mind off of being in quarantine for a while. Additionally, you can use these meetings as a resource to continue building connections with others.
How to Spend the Rest of the Day
A.A. meetings are normally only about an hour long. You may be wondering what to do with the rest of your time as you are alone in your thoughts. Consider creating a quarantine schedule to keep yourself productive. Maybe this means getting up, showering and getting dressed in the morning, as usual, followed by a healthy breakfast and some phone calls to friends. Whatever you do, make sure you limit coronavirus news consumption, as this can be triggering, leading to anxiety, overwhelm, and even relapse. Taking time to read some recovery self-help books, either on Amazon or through your local digital library, can also prove helpful if you ever feel lost or stuck. Find ways to move your body every day you are at home. You can get active by doing housework, picking up after yourself, cooking dinner, or going on a walk and/or run. Keeping some sense of normalcy and structure to your day can greatly improve your mental health, helping you maintain a sense of purpose, despite the circumstances.
You can also use this as an opportunity to reconnect with people. One of the 12 steps, after all, is to make amends with those you have wronged while under the influence. If you cannot leave your home, give them a call or video chat with them, and try to make amends. Use this opportunity to see how their health is as a way of showing how you care. Additionally, consider using this as an opportunity to seek ways to be of service to others in recovery. Chances are, there are many people new to sobriety that are struggling with the limitations imposed on them by the coronavirus pandemic. Look for ways that you can give back to the community.
How to Cope with Stress Without Drinking
Just because you are social distancing does not mean that you have to isolate yourself. Take advantage of technology and make sure to keep up with your peers through calls or video chats. Your stress levels will lower when your body recognizes that you are still socializing and experiencing human connection. Additionally, consistent exercise will regulate your autonomic nervous system, easing your anxiety. If you do not want to go outside, there are online exercising courses available, as well as apps offering free workouts like Obe Fitness.
The most important thing is to recognize when your anxiety is becoming too much to handle and to acknowledge if alcohol is controlling you as a result. If this is the case, speaking to a mental health specialist can help. Several mental health specialists offer online and remote services, such as Talkspace, Better Help, or the Crisis Text Hotline. Resources like these are proving to be incredibly useful during these times of mandated social isolation. Remember that there are plenty of resources available to help you if you feel like you are ready to take control of your drinking and your life.
Silver Lining Recovery is treatment program located in Huntington Beach, California, that specializes in addiction recovery. We believe that long term sobriety begins in a safe and relaxing environment that supports the internal work necessary for the initial steps in your recovery journey. Our experienced professionals are committed to creating customized treatment plans, based on the needs and goals of our clients. At Silver Lining Recovery, several therapeutic modalities are available to you, including EMDR, CBT, DBT, meditation and faith-based services, and more. It is possible to live a life free from addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, and we are here to help. Call us today for more information, at (833) 847-6984.