If your recovery from alcohol, sex, food, or drug addiction has suffered from being in quarantine, here are 5 way to focus on recovery during quarantine. Know that you are not alone. Being out of routine, meetings canceled, being stuck alone, or being stuck with a lot people can make recovery as difficult as ever. If you have struggled or even relapsed during this period of quarantine, here are some tips to remember to help get back on track.
DO NOT Isolate
Addiction flourishes with isolation. Having no one to be accountable to makes it way too easy for us to feel like we “can get away with it.” Not having someone to talk to can increase our addictive thinking into talking ourselves into “just having one,” or “only watching a short amount of pornography.” Having to look at someone and talk about your addiction requires more honesty and truth than keeping it in your own mind. I know connecting with others is hard right now. Make it a priority. Be creative. Find virtual 12 step meetings, zoom with your sponsor, meet someone in their driveway and stay 6 feet apart. Do what you need to do to keep connected with others in recovery. This is not a time to relax on the connection part of recovery.
DO NOT Allow Your Addictive Thinking to Take Over
When things are so off schedule and so out of our control, it would be such an easy time to allow addictive thinking we have used in the past to sneak back in. “Quarantine is so hard, I have earned one beer.” “At least in quarantine I won’t be able to drive if I drink.” “Since I cannot focus on healthy dating, I’ll use sexting or apps to connect.” Remember, it was faulty addictive thinking that got you in trouble in the first place. If you are struggling with an addiction, there are no “good” reasons to act out again. You don’t “deserve” it, “need” it, or “have to have” it. You deserve a life of recovery, connection, and healthy relationships. None of which you can have if you are acting out. Write down ways you have used addictive thinking before so you know what you are up against. Go back and reread some of the materials that helped you go down your recovery path in the beginning. Check back in with your counselor or friends that helped you get rid of addictive thinking before.
Focus On Your Recovery
It would be so easy during this time to continually get lost in Netflix and video games. I am sure that is what a lot of people are doing, especially those unable to work at this time. Allow yourself that time to relax and binge, but be very mindful to FOCUS on your recovery! Devote time to it every day. Just because you cannot physically go to meetings the way you did before, use that time to connect virtually to meetings, meet with your sponsors, read material, journal, or work on the 12 steps. If the world was still functioning regularly, I would encourage you to eat, sleep, and breathe recovery. Now should be no different! It may be a wonderful opportunity to be able to devote even more time than you normally could. These circumstances are not forever. Make your recovery a priority now more than ever.
Connect with Underlying Feelings of Your Addiction
It is easy to get stuck on the feeling of wanting to drink or watch pornography. It can be harder to get in touch with the feelings that have driven you to this behavior over and over again. Shame tends to drive addictive behavior. Shame and being hard on ourselves is often what drives acting out. We need the negative voices to be quiet. Alcohol, drugs, sex can all be things that get these voices to be quiet. If you have more time on your hands right now, it can be good and bad. The good factor is having time to work on having more insights into your shame, where it comes from, and how to move forward in healing the process. It can be bad because with extra time, shame voices can sometimes get out of control. If you have not spent time dealing with these underlying issues of shame, now is a great time to do that. A therapist or group can be very helpful in learning more about these.
BE Graceful with Yourself
Relapses are never ideal. I really hope quarantine hasn’t pushed you to that. But, if it has, be gracious with yourself. We are all stressed. Most of us are anxious. Most of the nation is having a really hard time with all of this. If you relapse, get yourself back up on the wagon. Don’t let one bad night become a bender. Don’t let one drink mean you are a failure. We are all human and we are all imperfect. Allow yourself to be as well. You’ve got this.
In this situation that makes it so easy to feel completely out of control, let’s remember what we DO have control over. You have control over how you deal with your recovery. You can make it a priority or you can use this virus as an excuse to let it go to the wayside. This is not a time to be easy in your recovery. Use this time and energy to learn insights and clean time. The choice is yours!