Approximately 19 million adults struggle with chemical dependency in the U.S. today and about 85% of whom have co-occurring mental health issues.
During this time, when stress levels are higher than usual for many of us, especially for those faced with increased financial strain and fear what the future may hold, can be triggers for increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Those increased negative emotions mixed with too much idle time or boredom can be a set up for increased use for some and relapse for those already struggling. Changes to our physical environment since the pandemic and recent shelter in place laws have presented a unique set of challenges to those trying to attain or maintain sobriety. Those who formerly found solace in attending church, in person 12 step meetings, going to the gym or to yoga classes or those who spent time in the park as coping tools are not able to use those same tools anymore and may need to find new and creative ways to cope with increased stress and stay connected to the recovery community as well.
Some of these could include:
· Participate in online and telephone support groups/therapy
· Keep in touch with your sponsor either through phone contact or online
· Develop a temporary routine to stick to each day
· Spend time each morning focusing on positives/things to be thankful for each day rather than allowing negative and fear-based thoughts take root
· Engage in hobbies – spend some time in enjoyable activities. Doing so decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety and are great antidote for boredom
· Get creative – draw, paint, color, write; let your creativity out, these can be great outlets for difficult or negative emotions
Remember that you are not alone! There are professionals such as myself who care and are here to help as well as many online resources that can keep you connected or get you connected to your recovery community.
Some helpful links for information and resources:
- Alcoholics Anonymous – Online meetings and information www.aa.org
- Narcotics Anonymous – Online meetings and information www.na.org
- Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration – www.samhsa.gov
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – www.drugabuse.gov
About the Author: Jennifer Barry, LCSW