In this article…
- Being in self-isolation due to stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with an increased risk of relapse for those in recovery from a substance use disorder.
- There are several simple steps those in recovery can take to lower the risk of relapse and get support during isolation, including accessing online resources.
- Being able to recognize the signs of relapse is an important part of knowing when to get help promptly in order to stay sober.
Substance use disorders affect millions of people in the U.S. In fact, there were roughly 20.3 million people 12 years of age or older who had this type of disorder in 2018, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Professional treatment can help individuals recover from substance use disorders, but there is a risk of relapse due to the challenges of staying sober. These challenges can become more difficult in certain situation, such as during periods of isolation.
Feeling more anxious or restless than usual is understandable during the COVID-19 pandemic. You might be experiencing boredom and loneliness from being isolated, as well as anxiety over how coronavirus might affect your health or the health of your loved ones. It’s important to be aware that you could be facing a higher risk of relapse, which makes it essential to work on preventing this from happening. If you do end up having relapse, keep in mind that you can seek prompt treatment at Riverside Recovery. During isolation, use the following tips to help reduce your risk of relapse.
Seek Social Support OnlineHaving support from others, such as those who have recovered and know what you’re going through, can help you feel connected while you’re isolated at home. Online support groups and forums offer ways for you to reach out to other people for emotional support while you’re recovering. You can also find more online resources for help and support from national and local organizations that focus on substance use disorder recovery, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Practice Self-CareTaking good care of yourself during isolation and recovery helps you maintain your physical and emotional well-being. This can include getting enough sleep every night, eating a diet full of healthy foods, getting regular physical activity and spending time outdoors each day. Practicing stress management through meditation or mindfulness on a regular basis can help improve your mental well-being.
Create a Relapse Prevention PlanStaying organized can help you focus on taking necessary steps each day to prevent relapse during isolation. Your relapse prevention plan might include items such as reminders for when to exercise or go to appointments. Having a checklist of tasks to accomplish on a daily basis, such as meditating or spending a certain amount of time working out, can also be helpful. Your plan should also include a list of things that might trigger relapse, so you can avoid these as much as possible.
Healthy At-Home ActivitiesBeing able to stay occupied while you are stuck at home can help you avoid being tempted to turn back to alcohol or drugs due to boredom. There are several healthy activities you can do at home to help you stay busy. For example, you might take up a new hobby or study a new subject or topic you’ve always wanted to learn through online classes. Other ideas for healthy activities include gardening, journaling, painting, dancing, or crafting.
Identifying Signs of Relapse
Thinking that drinking or using drugs again isn’t dangerous or risky.Believing that you’ll be able to stop at one drink or only use drugs again one time can set you on the path to relapse. You might underestimate how much self-control it takes to stop after one drink or one-time using drugs again.
Severe Mood SwingsYou might experience severe mood changes that come on suddenly in response to things that trigger stress, including the current pandemic, money concerns, or conflicts with loved ones. While feeling stress about these issues is understandable, your moods might be more extreme than normal if you’re headed toward a relapse.
Losing Confidence in RecoveryTurning away from your recovery program or feeling as though it isn’t helpful anymore puts you at a high risk of going back to alcohol or drugs. You might start avoiding reaching out to others for support, such as your loved ones or support groups.
Being in DenialIf you refuse to admit that you could be at risk of relapse or that you still need help staying sober, you might find it easier to turn back to drinking or using drugs. Recognizing that you need help is an important part of making sure you seek treatment to avoid relapse.