Facing Another Lockdown Quarantine: How to Stay Clean This Time Around
While there may be a viable vaccine on the horizon, COVID-19 continues to infect people all over the world, and in some U.S. states, the numbers are trending up again. With the strain that puts on the healthcare system and the consequences of overburdened hospitals, the lockdown has been implemented in some states and may be implemented in others. As necessary as it may have been, the first round of quarantine proved to be a serious challenge for people in the recovery community. Drug overdose numbers went up, and relapse was a serious threat for many.
The road ahead for COVID-19 may be uncertain, and the potential for lockdown in some areas remains. If it happens in your city, how can you go into it prepared to maintain your sobriety? Learn more about staying clean in lockdown and what you can do to safeguard your sobriety.
People in recovery know that connection with other people is often a vital lifeline in recovery. Social bonds and community connection are important for so many reasons. For one, connection drives away feelings of isolation, which fester at the wounds of addiction and mental health. Feeling cut off, alone, and without help are detrimental to mental health, creating negative emotions or amplifying existing ones. Connecting with others helps you feel like you’re part of a community and that people care about you.
The second president of the United States, John Adams, wrote, “Friendship is one of the distinguishing glorys of man. . . From this, I expect to receive the chief happiness of my future life.” So it is with people in recovery. Friendship is one of life’s deeper pursuits that addiction can threaten and with which you can avoid relapse.
Community connection also creates a support system of accountability. When you’re connected to other people, they care about your comings and goings. You’re expected to show up to meetings, check-in, and maintain contact. This is also true when you’re employed or part of a family. If you don’t show up, there’s someone to check up on you and to expect something of you. This is important in recovery, and it’s difficult to maintain in quarantine.
In treatment, you may go through group therapy to build social skills. You may also attend 12-step meetings regularly. In quarantine, meeting with other people on a regular basis may be much more difficult. But with the tools we have today, quarantine doesn’t need to mean isolation.
Social media, video chatting, and other online tools can help you connect with friends, family, and coworkers. Don’t just call someone once and a while through quarantine. Make regularly scheduled appointments to talk to friends and family. Many 12-step programs and treatment centers have adapted to social distancing needs by hosting online meetings. These can help reduce the feeling of isolation that quarantine may bring.
Avoid Idle Time
The old saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” While this may be an adage that’s aimed at promoting productivity, it points out an important truth. Idleness allows your mind to wander. If you’re bored, your brain will seek stimulus in some way. This could mean spending hours scrolling through social media for many, but for people in recovery, it could lead to cravings and triggers.
Boredom is a negative emotional state of malaise and a feeling of discontentment. As with other negative emotions, your brain may snap to tried and true methods of positive stimulation. People in recovery have reward centers that have taught their brains about a source of feel-good chemicals in drugs or alcohol. Only through a continued commitment to recovery, learned coping techniques, and help from others can many people resist the urge to give in to those cravings.
The COVID-19 lockdowns left people with nothing to do all day. There was no one waiting for you to show up, no deadlines to meet, and no expectations. That, coupled with the stress of facing a global pandemic and economic downturn, could easily lead people to return to vice for comfort. It’s important to fill your day with purpose, even in a pandemic. That could mean many things, though. Catching up with friends, taking an online class, learning to bake bread. These are all viable pursuits that you could do from home. They’ll also help you avoid idleness and boredom.
Stress is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, stress spurs you to take action, keeps you alert and aware, and can fuel productivity. In a pandemic, it could prompt you to take the virus seriously, taking the necessary precautions. On the other hand, too much-unmanaged stress is hazardous to your health, leading to heart disease, sleep issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
In quarantine, it’s important to find ways to manage stress effectively. There are ways you can specifically address stress and anxiety related to the pandemic. Make sure your family is well prepared, limit your news and media intake, and follow the latest disease prevention practices.
If you’ve gone through recovery, you may already know some strategies to help cope with stress. Re-familiarize yourself with them or speak to other people in recovery about how they manage stress. There are some other important options for managing stress, as well.
Exercise is an excellent way to manage stress because it involves physical instead of mental effort. Meditation, employing coping strategies, productive reading, and other mental tasks that help with stress all require complex thinking to accomplish. When you’re stressed, and your mind is anxious, it can be hard to focus on other things.
Many people in quarantine found themselves glued to the news because the pandemic, the economy, and other world events were all they could think about. Exercise allows you to do a mentally beneficial activity without requiring a lot of focus. Exercise releases endorphins, which boost your mood and may help prepare you for other mental tasks.
Another important stress management technique is also important for general health. Consistent sleep is essential. According to the CDC, as much as a third of adults don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. During quarantine, you may not have trouble getting enough sleep, but you may struggle to get consistent and restful sleep. With no work or obligations, you may find yourself staying up late and sleeping in more.
Consistent sleep, or keeping a regular sleep schedule, helps you maintain restful sleep and avoid sleep disorders.
How to Help Others
People in recovery often learn the value of connecting with others by listening to their problems and acting as their support. Group therapy and 12-step programs force you to get out of your own self-focus to listen and help others. This can be mutually beneficial. While you support someone else, you learn to forge connections to bolster your support system. Plus, you never know the good you might be doing in reaching out to others. Make calls, video chat, and ask how people are doing. It will improve your time in lockdown, and it could make a difference for someone else.