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Navigating Addiction in a Pandemic & Adjusting to the new "Normal"

Navigating Addiction in a Pandemic & Adjusting to the new “Normal”

The COVID-19 pandemic has literally turned our way of living up-side-down, from social distancing to population limits, job loss, and devastating blows in the global economy, we are living a new normal. This makes life a little bit different, and with people who are struggling with addiction, how do we navigate and adjust to this new way of living?

Unfortunately, due to restrictions and economic upsets, this has led us to be at home more, perhaps feel more stressed and anxious as our wallets tighten and job security lessens. COVID-19 has been a rapidly changing situation that creates unexpected challenges that are probably more stressful and negatively biased, pushing us towards drinking or substance abuse as a way to cope. It has also created more difficulty in individuals seeking rehabilitation, and even just getting out and being social, staying physically connected to others and being part of a community that creates resilience against relapse.

 Although it’s quite easy to fall into bad habits during these times, it’s important that we stay positive, accountable, and most importantly, connected.

Stay Positive

I always get a weird look when I tell people to stay positive, a scrunched up face or perhaps a “yeah, easier said than done”, and sometimes it isn’t easy, but with practice and persistence, it gets easier.

These times are tough, and we are all going through some pretty challenging (and weird) times, which at a glance is populated by quite a lot of negativity. From riots in the US, and an encroaching economical depression, and millions of job losses, it can be quite easy to get mentally derailed into a spiral of negativity, focusing too much on what’s going wrong, when what you should be doing is looking for the diamond in the rough. Failures suck, and bad things that happen to us can be physically and emotionally shattering, but what if I told you that almost every bad thing that happens to you is for a reason? and there is almost 100% something positive set up in the future because of it. 

Without any of our failures or events seemingly filled with negativity, we would probably be worse off than where we are right now, and a great example of this is relapse. I have relapsed countless times in my life, and without those moments, I could not be where I am now.

When you encounter a negative moment or tough time, it’s okay to be upset and annoyed, but once you have cooled off, look back at it, and I can guarantee you there is something positive in there, a diamond in the rough.

Stay Accountable

Remember when you let people in on your substance abuse troubles? perhaps you joined a supportive community or group to keep you accountable, burned the damn bridges and created a point of no return. We need to keep doing this.

Now, if you haven’t done this, perhaps this is motivation to start, although, in these more isolated times, it can be harder to do and makes it easier to backpedal when we’re feeling the crunch, or just have way too much damn time on our hands. So how do we stay accountable when we can’t go out and gather in these communities as much? Well, this is where the power of the internet is a lifesaver. Now, depending on where you live, you may be able to go out and see family and friends, so first and foremost, do this, spend some time having a chat or seek out these people when you feel you are cracking under pressure.

There are many online community groups on Facebook dedicated to giving support and allowing you to be open to others about the tough moments you may be going through, CafeRE by Recovery Elevator is one example of a fantastic resource. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us at Clarity, we’re always open and here to help, and if you need to start with a free short consultation, that is fine too.

Stay Connected

This final area relates hand-in-hand with accountability, and knowing that even though we may be isolated more, staying connected whether it be via facebook, instant messenging or video chats, is paramount. 

When we neglect to stay in touch with others and keep ourselves more isolated and distant, our human innate need to create close connections gets stronger and we go in search of something else to fill this void. This process pushes us back into unhealthy addictive habits, poor coping strategies, and basically, disrupts the whole recovery timeline. Excessive isolation and human neglect, whether it be digital or not, can nudge us into depression, which is also something we don’t want to be dealing with during these times.

Secondly, ensure you’re getting out and connecting with family and friends, and other groups that continue to lift you up and nourish your internal values and life purposes. Sometimes it is okay to be by yourself, rest and recharge, but it’s all about finding the balance to be with others and also allowing time to be kind to yourself.

Final notes

Now if you do relapse or have during these tough times, it’s okay, don’t stress, and definitely do not punish yourself. Paul Churchill from Recovery Elevator likes to classify these moments as doing more field research, and I sort of like this concept. Additional relapses are growth to a stronger and resilient former drinker in the future.

If you have any feedback regarding this article, reach out. Help Clarity reach more people and quit addiction by following us on Instagram, it’s also the perfect place to message us and ask questions!

All the best in health,
Former Drinker & Clinical Nutritionist
Stephen Brumwell.

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