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COVID-19 and Those Struggling with Addiction


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As the opioid crisis has affected millions of people across the country, many families are left at a loss of how to cope. A loved one’s addiction can cause anger, frustration, distrust, and fear in those around that person.


When someone can finally convince that individual to get the help he/she needs, it’s difficult to avoid worrying about another potential relapse. Though addiction has been a growing problem for years, Coronavirus based-restrictions and health fears have made it much worse. Here is what we know about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected those struggling with an addiction.


Problems Facing the Recovery Community

Isolation is the biggest threat to those seeking recovery from addiction. Anyone who has attended a meeting knows the importance of fellowship. Physical distancing and closures of public space make it more difficult for those struggling to seek help.


Though many have resisted relapse, other “newbies” have found it nearly impossible to stay sober at the age of COVID-19. Their first meeting may be on Zoom, which many find to be less than satisfying or helpful.


Speaking to someone through a computer rather than seeing another person face-to-face makes the addict feel less engaged in the recovery process. Furthermore, many sponsors are unable to meet with their sponsees, having to resort to phone conversations. For a seasoned meeting attender, this may not be the end of the world. But for a new person in recovery who is lonely, isolated, afraid, and desperate for interaction-this can be disastrous.


Increase in Depression & Anxiety

Covid-based restrictions have caused an increase in anxiety and depression among most people, even those who don’t struggle with addiction. People are suffering through job loss, home-based learning, and isolation. For a recovering addict, any increase in external stress is a threat to sobriety. Though it is the individual’s responsibility to stay sober, certain factors can contribute to one’s success.


Addicts tend to struggle with mental health issues more than other people. There is a correlation between anxiety disorders, depression, and other problems that make recovery more challenging. On top of that, individuals cannot always take medication to treat their condition. Some medications such as benzodiazepines are habit-forming and prone to abuse. COVID-19 has made it harder for those in recovery to treat both their anxiety disorder/depression and addiction.


Solutions

Fortunately, there are solutions available to those seeking recovery from addiction during this challenging time, including-


· In-Person Meetings – Some chapters have allowed a few in-person meetings. They use social distancing measures and mask requirements to decrease the chance of spreading the virus. Though this option is not available to everyone, it may be necessary as a last resort.

· Keep Going to Zoom – Yes, Zoom is not the same as an in-person meeting. There is no question that this is the case. But it’s better than nothing. Continue switching up meetings and find one you like. Ask for numbers in the Chat box to stay connected with others.

· Stay Connected – Talk to friends, family, or anyone else who can help during this challenging time. Call your sponsor daily and speak candidly about your struggles. Don’t hide anything or pretend to be o.k.

· Exercise and Keep a Schedule – Continue to take care of your body and mind. Exercise, eat well and drink plenty of water. Try to keep yourself busy during the day to avoid thinking about drugs and alcohol. Boredom is an addict’s worse enemy.

· Get Help – Several rehab facilities are still open, despite the Coronavirus restrictions. If necessary, contact one of these facilities to help optimize the sobriety process. Or, look for a therapist who can help you learn coping mechanisms to manage the struggles you face during this time.


Are you struggling with anxiety and depression? Do you suffer from an addiction? Has COVID-19 made these things worse? If so, contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.


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