The COVID-19 pandemic, along with the lockdown measures taken to reduce its spread, has been challenging for many. However, things have been especially difficult for people suffering from addiction. The isolation and financial uncertainty have led to relapse rates skyrocketing. The sooner we understand what people struggling with addiction are going through, the quicker we can mobilize to help maintain their sobriety.
Drug Use Is on the Rise
With many struggling to keep up their mental health, as well as pay their bills, drug use has unsurprisingly risen in recent months. Ever since COVID-19 led to strict restrictions and lockdown measures, many people, especially those grappling with addiction, have been tempted to turn to drugs as a way to cope.
Another side effect of the strict lockdown measures is a rise in drug shortages. This has led to both increased prices and lower purity. With the reduced quality of the drugs available on the street, people who relapse are putting themselves at an even higher risk than before. Those who are marginalized in society, such as youth, women, and those who are economically challenged, are the most susceptible to falling prey to relapsing.
With both health and social systems being brought to their limits, due to the vast number of people infected with COVID-19, people suffering from addiction are finding it difficult to get the help they need to stay sober. The sharp increase in alcohol and drug use during quarantine and job loss can lead to long-lasting problems that will linger even once the virus is no longer a threat.
What Can Be Done
There is no easy way to say it; these are challenging times. All of us are being affected by COVID-19 and the restrictive reactions to it. This is why it is especially important to be aware of the old triggers that people once had, which can still linger within them, and potentially leading to relapse. It is important to stay strong-willed and take proactive steps to maintain sobriety.
There are healthy outlets available to everyone, which can help them steer clear of the seemingly easy way out of the intensity right now. Drugs may seem like a quick fix, but the consequences far outweigh the benefits. Thankfully, there are healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol that can help people cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are a few suggestions that can be applied:
Connect With Counselors, Friends, and Family
Even if there are lockdown restrictions that require you to stay indoors and avoid all non-essential travel, you can still stay connected with friends and family. You can do this by having video calls with them. You can even hold a virtual meeting with a counselor if you need the support of a specialist.
Connecting, even if it is in this way, will help you express what you are feeling and going through. Feeling a sense of community and connection is vital to staying in recovery, as well as your overall well-being. Take part in these virtual calls and meetings regularly.
Move Your Body
When you stay active, you produce feel-good chemicals called endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These are produced endogenously and will give you a healthy high while getting a physical workout.
Reduce depression, anxiety, and stress by taking part in yoga, exercise, running, or any number of other activities that require a physical workout. You will also notice that you sleep better, have more energy, and feel more motivated.
Get Involved in a Hobby
Boredom can set in when you’re self-isolating or if you have lost your job, or if you are dealing with both. A healthy and creative way to cope with these sorts of circumstances is to get involved in a hobby. This could mean letting your inner artist come up, which can help you be present and creative. Another option to consider is to enroll in an online class about a topic you are genuinely interested in.
Whatever it is, make sure you have fun doing it, keeping you engaged and interested. A hobby can improve your mood and build up your self-esteem.
These are challenging times that ask for all of us to stay strong. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, let them know that there are healthy ways to improve their mood and well-being. All of the suggestions mentioned above can help with avoiding relapse and the consequences that come with it. COVID-19 and the restrictive measures taken to stop its spreading will be gone soon enough. Until then, there are specific action steps that can be taken that will help with staying on a path of sobriety.