Addiction is a disease of loneliness and isolation and the antidote is fellowship and community. Recovery was founded on these principles. This makes the Coronavirus and Covid 19 landscape a breeding ground for addiction.
For an addict, idle time is dangerous time. Addiction is an obsession; a compulsion that starts in the brain, having too much time becomes a head game for an addict. I've always said an addict's head is a dangerous place to go alone.
With people unemployed, sheltering in place, stuck with family or others they are not used to being with for hours, days, and weeks on end, something's got to give. And for an addict, all too often it's the sobriety from their fix of choice.
Uncertainty, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and resentment are all real right now. And they are all triggers for addictive behaviors. Distractions from these feelings can come in the form of drugs and alcohol or can be found online through gambling, pornography or shopping. It's imperative to know the difference between healthy use and abuse.
Like all industries, recovery is changing in this new climate. Those seeking to stay away from their fix of choice have to be flexible and willing to adapt to the new normal. Though online meetings may not give the same sense of intimacy and physical closeness, it's a way to stay connected and a place to talk about the idle time, fears and uncertainty.
It's easy for an addict to lose focus on the "why" that got them into recovery during trying times in life, and a pandemic is certainly one of those times. Now more than ever it is extremely important to remember that "why" and stay the course.
For many addicts there are incentives that keep them focused on their recovery. Things such as getting parenting rights back, getting rid of a breathalyzer in their car or just getting a driver license back are thwarted now that they can't go anywhere or see anyone. Without the rewards attached it's easier to justify relapse. Along with that, there's too much doomsday the world is coming to an end thinking thriving out there giving more credence to the "why bother" syndrome.
I often remind addicts of the lengths they went to get high and encourage that at times they'll have to go to those same lengths to stay in recovery. Just as they would sneak out to find a dealer in the middle of the night, they may have to sneak to their computer in the middle of the night and find a meeting. Which I might add is a whole lot easier now with Zoom meetings around the clock and the world.
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