The world is a mess. You’re stuck in your house (mostly). You are worried about your vulnerable friends and family members. 12-step meetings have gone virtual. Liquor stores are still open, and chances are your drug dealer considers himself an “essential worker.” You’ve deleted his number, but you remember it, and every moment that goes by you think about texting him, like he’s a bad ex-boyfriend.
So, what can you do to stay sober during this wild (and scary) time?
I’ve been abstinent from drugs for two and a half years, and this is a question that crosses my mind every day. I’m an introvert, and part of me enjoys the time to myself, but it’s easily to slip into a dark place of isolation and self-destruction.
Additionally, many of us are dealing with sudden changes. As a college student, I was kicked out of my dorm in Boston and had to move back across the country to Seattle, where I’m now in quarantine with my family. Displacement, job loss, separation from friends—these are all potentially triggering situations, and it’s understandable that a drink or a drug might seem like an easy fix.
I have found, therefore, that it has been important for me to return to some level of normalcy and routine. I make my bed when I get up in the morning, empty the dishwasher, scroll through the news for fifteen minutes, then proceed with my day. I try to go to bed around 10 p.m. every night, and journal and say a prayer before turning out the lights. I don’t expect perfection with my routine—that all-or-nothing thinking has led me to relapse in the past—but I try my best.
I also try to get some form of exercise each day. Remember that staying home doesn’t necessarily mean spending all your time inside—the CDC recommends taking walks/exercising outside in non-crowded areas, so take advantage of the opportunity to get fresh air when you can. There are also many virtual yoga and workout class subscriptions you can access online. Most aren’t free, but offer free trial periods. If you’re cheap like me, you can bounce around between different services after each free trial expires—you can probably make this last your whole quarantine!
Social and spiritual support have been the most crucial elements of my recovery program during this time. I have made many friends through recovery networks, and although I can’t see them in person during this time, I find that a daily call or FaceTime session with another person in recovery is an essential morale-booster. 12-step programs are also hosting virtual meetings through Zoom (guides with session links can be found through a simple Google search) and if you aren’t a 12-step person, the website InTheRooms.com offers a variety of live meetings, meditation/yoga sessions, and resources for non-substance related addictions.
The most critical thing to remember during this time is that now, more than ever, you are not alone. Every person in the world is impacted by this pandemic, and that includes every person in recovery. So pick up the phone and call someone you love (instead of your drug dealer), do some meditation/mindfulness/positive affirmations and remember that whatever discomfort or pain you are experiencing won’t last forever.