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Relapse Prevention During Uncertain Times

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With the COVID-19 outbreak, many substance abuse treatment facilities are not accepting new clients from outside of the agency and in-person self-help meetings like AA and SMART Recovery are canceled due to social distancing guidelines. On top of that, many people are being quarantined at home alone, with lots of idle time. For many, daily meetings and avoiding isolation are crucial to maintaining an abstinent lifestyle. So, what does this mean for your sobriety, and how can you prevent relapse during this time? What can be done to cope with the stress of this pandemic without your usual support system?

  1. Call your sponsor
    More often than not, calling your sponsor is a daily or weekly task. Continue to do this, and do it more if needed. Your sponsor is in the same situation you are, so they understand how challenging this time is. Lean on them for support. They are there for you. If you don’t have one, reach out to someone else in your support system that can be a stand-in sponsor for the time being.
  2. Stay connected via phone calls, texting, Facetime, etc.
    Just because you are home alone does not mean you have to be isolated. Reach out to your friends, family, and peers in recovery. If you can, try to Facetime/video chat so you can create a more real interaction. Contact people through social media if you don’t have their numbers and find creative ways to engage in activities with others. Maybe watch a movie together with Netflix Party or join an online book club. There are lots of options!
  3. Take advantage of online meeting forums
    Many self-help groups are offering online meetings so people can remain connected to a recovery community. You can find the information on how to join at the following links:AA – http://aa-intergroup.org/directory.php   https://www.chicagoaa.org/remote-online-meetings/

    NA –https://www.chicagona.org/coronavirus/

    CMA –  https://crystalmeth.org/cma-meetings/cma-meetings-directory/3736-online.html

    SMART Recovery –  https://www.smartrecovery.org/community/calendar.php

    SA –  https://www.sa.org/meetings/

  4. Set a schedule
    To keep yourself from having too much downtime, set a schedule for each day and stick to it. Meticulously plan out what you are going to be doing, hour by hour, and hold yourself accountable to that schedule. If you need someone to help you with it, have a friend or your sponsor check-in with you periodically to make sure you are staying on task.
  5. Try something new
    This can also be a great time to pick up a new hobby. Not only will it help fill your time, it will be a positive activity that you can look forward to doing every day. Think about something that you have always wanted to learn and do it! There is a Youtube video for everything, so give it a try!
  6. Use your coping skills
    It is extremely important that you continue to utilize your coping skills. Everything around us is uncertain right now, so continuing to engage in these activities can help us feel “normal” and keep us grounded. It can be easy to lay in bed all day and not take the time to journal or exercise, but doing so is going to make us feel worse in the long run. Push yourself to keep up with your healthy habits. If you start to lose track of them, it can be easy to turn back to old habits: drugs and alcohol. Remember, using never solves a problem, it only makes it worse.
  7. Focus on why your sobriety is important to you
    In the moments when things feel overwhelming and using seems like the only answer, remind yourself why you chose to stop in the first place. Write down all of the reasons your sobriety is important to you and return to that list when you start to question things. Keep it in a place where you can easily access it, like in the notes on your phone, taped to your mirror, or hanging on your fridge. If it helps, write down the things you may lose if you were to relapse and the effect that will have on you and your loved ones. Whatever it takes for you to stay on track, do it.
  8. Connect with professional help

Just because treatment centers aren’t accepting new clients does not mean there is not help out there for you. Here at Counseling Works we are offering telehealth sessions that can be done from the privacy of your own home. If you feel you need additional support, schedule an appointment. We are here to help!

Written by Hannah Payne


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