While substance abuse may seem as an attractive measure in coping with COVID-19 anxieties, the repercussions for the recovering alcoholic/addict may be problematic in the long run. Healthier coping methods and strategies can effectively reduce anxieties and produce positive mental health dispositions during COVID – pandemic. Moreover, to note that a return to chemical use for individuals in recovery potentially leads to co-occurring alcohol or drug use disorders. Evidence has demonstrated persons who relapse with alcohol and drug use are more likely to not only take to medicate feelings, but the developments of independent substance use disorders.
There are a number of ways to deal with anxieties surrounding COVID – 19 and to combat the struggles associated with loneliness, stress or an irregular schedule. Below is a four-point recommendation towards achieving mental health during this period:
- Development of loving self-compassion. Lets bear in mind it is only natural to experience anxieties from time to time. These are not “wrong” feelings, however, comforting self with positive thoughts such as identifying the things you are grateful for and practicing breathing techniques tend to resolve an anxious mind. There will be intrusive thoughts such as “I’m not productive” or “this pandemic will never end.” These ways of thinking can be combated gratitude and acceptance.
- Care for the physical. Maintaining physical health is strongly associated with mental health and well being. Eating right, having good sleep patterns, and exercising are three fundamentals in adding love to the body. During COVID – 19 pandemic this can be the perfect time to engage in learning to cook a healthy menu or beginning an online work-out yoga class.
- Decrease your fears. Taking charge of your recovery may mean curbing your anxiety levels that can be stimulated through the intake of negative information. Listening less to the opinions of social media’s comments can eliminate degrees of fears. Barrages of diverse schools of thoughts tend to add to confusion and anxieties. A good way to update on current news about the pandemic should be from reliable sources (for example the World health Organization).
- Discipline. Make sure your day is structured. Planning a personal daily schedule and executing it tends to eliminate boredom and stresses that can lead to anxieties and relapse. For recovering alcoholics/addicts who are unable to work, a good daily forward planning and consistency of a daily schedule helps develop a routine that can become systemic. In conclusion the most important thing to remember is, DO NOT TAKE THAT FIRST DRINK OR DRUG. Should anxieties, temptations or situations become overwhelming, pick up the phone, call someone, and ask for help. When all odds seem to be against you trust in that power outside of you which is Greater than you.
Sydney E. Retemyer RAS II, MSc