Self-Isolating, Isolating and Coronavirus
Self-Isolating, Isolating and Coronavirus
Most addicts and alcoholics are all too familiar with isolating and its pitfalls. For some addicts, isolating characterized their drinking and using from the very beginning. For others, isolating came later as a result of damaged relationships. Isolating is not just a by-product of addiction, it can also be a trigger and that’s why most programs of recovery promote connections and fellowship. Ask anyone who has relapsed what happened prior to them picking up again, and usually they will have stopped going to meetings and started to isolate some time before re-engaging in their addictions.
Addicts and alcoholics isolate for a number of reasons; they are embarrassed by their appearance; they are too drunk or high to go out; or they have fear around going out and meeting people. It’s been proven time and time again that isolating is rarely a ‘one off event’. Once an addict begins isolating they will withdraw further and the situation perpetuates.
For those in recovery, connections to people, especially to other people in recovery, are essential. Without regular interaction it’s all too easy to withdraw mentally and emotionally and slip back into old habits and denial.
New regulations relating to social distancing, self-isolating and Coronavirus are essential for preventing the spread of Coronavirus, however, for those in recovery, there is an additional challenge to tackle – how to self-isolate with becoming isolated?
Here are some suggested coping mechanisms and strategies for maintaining your sobriety during self-isolation and lockdowns.
Coronavirus and Staying Connected
Staying connected is the most important factor in maintaining your sobriety throughout a Coronavirus lockdown. It has been proven countless times that when alcoholics and addicts adopt the thinking that they can manage alone, old habits begin to resurface. Here are some ways to stay connected from home…
Online Meetings: Check with your local 12 step program groups for online meetings. If you would normally attend 2 meetings a week, make it 3 or 4 times a week during lockdown. This is a stressful time for everyone and you will have less interaction with people, so increase your number of meetings each week. Use this as an opportunity to reach out to another meeting group – perhaps one from another city. You’ll meet new people and hear new stories of experience, strength and hope.
Make A Plan With Your Sponsor: If you’d normally meet or call once a week, aim to talk twice a week. Arrange days and times in advance.
Video Calling: Think back to your drinking / using days. Was isolating a way of hiding? Hold yourself accountable and turn your video camera on for all 12 step meetings and calls with your sponsor.
Phone a Friend: In early sobriety we are encouraged to call people and that is more important than ever during lockdown. Set yourself a target of how many people you will call each day. Write out a list of names and numbers and rotate your way through the list. Other people in recovery will be doing the same, so ask them if they would like to schedule a set day and time to connect. By having calls scheduled with another person they are more likely to happen and less likely to be forgotten.
Chat with Colleagues: If you are working from home, phone a colleague instead of writing another WhatsApp message or email. You might brighten their day up too!
Maintaining Sobriety & Wellbeing
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed lives overnight. Instead of going to the office, people are working from home, kids are being schooled at home, social gatherings are restricted and non-essential travel is not permitted. Times of change are often times of stress and it is in these circumstances that most relapses occur. It is essential to stay connected to all aspects of your program throughout this period. Staying connected to others is essential, but it’s also important to stay connected to your higher power and to your own wants and needs. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your wellbeing during this time…
Routines: Not everything has to change. Wherever possible try to stick to your regular routines and schedule. If you work from 9-5 in the office, work from 9-5 at home. Schedule your lunchtime and breaks as you would normally and don’t skip them.
Prayer and Meditation: Make time for prayers and meditation each day. If you don’t have a quiet space for prayer and meditation, now is the time to create your own sanctuary! If meditation is new to you, try downloading an app on your phone. There are numerous apps for guided meditation, meditation courses, and even music.
Variety & Balance: A balanced day should include some time spent on each of the following elements: mental stimulation, play time, interaction with others, rest and reflection, physical exercise and time spent helping another (see below).
Helping Others: If you are not a Sponsor, it may be more challenging finding ways to be of service to others during the Coronavirus lockdown. Listen out for newcomers in your online meetings and offer to private chat with them after the meeting. Be of service in your community by offering to pick up items from the store for neighbours. At times like these, even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference.
Monitoring: Keep a journal and make a note of who you called, which meeting you attended and any step work you did. These are scary times for all of us, so monitor yourself for signs of stress and be on the lookout for signs of addicted or alcoholic behaviour, these could include overeating, excessive online shopping etc.
Attitude of Gratitude: End your day with a gratitude list and, if praying is part of your program, a thought for those who are suffering.
On a positive note, try to make the most of this time and indulge yourself – haven’t you always wanted to play the guitar or get into yoga? What about learning a new language? It’s all possible and there is no better time than right now!
The Lighthouse Bali
If you, or someone you know, is in recovery, or still drinking or using and you’d like to talk to someone about the Coronavirus lockdown, please feel free to give us a call on the contact details below or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org