The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the world. People are staying inside more than ever, avoiding contact with those outside their immediate household.
These precautions are necessary for stopping the spread of a virus, but may have a negative impact on mental health – particularly for those who are recovering from addiction and require regular interaction with the recovery community.
Across the country, people have been feeling the effects of loneliness in response to social distancing. If you or your loved one is in recovery from addiction, this might be particularly dangerous: loneliness is one of the most common triggers of relapse.
How Loneliness Can Trigger Relapse
At some point during your recovery, you were likely introduced to the acronym HALT: hunger, anger, loneliness, tired. These are four feelings that can weaken your resolve, often resulting in relapse.
This is one reason why many recovery programs recommend participants to get involved with the community. Having a group of people that are going through a similar struggle helps each individual know they’re not alone in their situation, provides them with a safe space to talk, and helps them stay accountable to getting better.
In fact, for many people, feelings of loneliness and isolation are at the root of their addiction. Loneliness and depression often feed off each other, and both feelings can be very triggering for someone in recovery.
How to Manage Feelings of Loneliness in Recovery
During this time of social distancing, it’s important to be proactive and try to reduce any feelings of loneliness before you feel them set in.
Think about what it is that makes you feel the most loved and safe, and figure out how that can adapt to the current situation. If that’s a weekly coffee date with your best friend, schedule a weekly video call to catch up with them. If you feel like your 12-step meetings are your saving grace, find an online meeting to attend or schedule a phone or video call with your sponsor.
If you’re the type of person who needs to consistently feel stimulated in order to keep yourself in a good place mentally, consider using this time to develop new hobbies or pick up new ones. Learn a new language, start to exercise, or get into the kitchen and let your inner chef out.
Regardless, don’t be afraid to confide in friends or family members you trust and ask them for extra support until things return to normal.