As more and more states ban travel and group gatherings to slow the spread of coronavirus, the pandemic is resulting in an unintended rise in drug and alcohol use and relapses among those who are in recovery. The anxiety of job losses, spending most of the day cooped up with kids and spouses are driving many to look for escape through alcohol or drugs. Mental health professionals are speaking out about different ways to cope with the isolation and anxiety caused by COVID-19 stay at home orders, which can also act as triggers for those in recovery, especially when coupled with canceled Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. Some tips include:
- Take advantage of virtual meetings through Skype, Zoom, or other virtual meeting apps
- Read recovery-oriented literature
- Practice prayer and meditation
- Engage in healthy hobbies
- Journal thoughts and feelings
- Take advantage of helplines and hotlines for support
- Try to maintain a structured routine
- Stay in touch with support friends, family, sponsors, or others in recovery
- Get regular sleep and exercise
Lack of connection with others in recovery can fuel relapses for alcohol and drug abusers. Staying connected is key to maintaining sobriety. The Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup website (a hub for people to find local and online meetings) lists more than 100 online meetings. Other sites also have lists of online meetings such as OnlineGroupAA.org, AAOnlineMeeting.net, InTheRooms.com. For members of Narcotics Anonymous, websites like Virtual-NA.org and NA.org/meetingsearch can be useful resources. Many addiction therapists and professionals have extra time now and are working from home. For people interested in finding a therapist check out the Psychology Today website, which allows people to search by location, specialty, and insurance coverage.
There are also many non 12-step recovery and support groups available like SMART Recovery, LifeRing, and Women for Sobriety. SMART Recovery has online forums and meetings, LifeRing hosts Zoom meetings, and Women for Sobriety has community forums and phone support.