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The Threat of Social Distancing: How Isolation Affects Addiction Recovery

A man in addiction recovery keeping himself busy throughout the day by taking an online class.
There’s a lot you can do during social distancing to help you maintain your addiction recovery.

Addiction taught you the importance of building a healthy support network of loved ones and friends. You also learned valuable relapse prevention techniques like socialization and spending time outside as much as possible. And on an average day, these techniques work. You can go to AA meetings, visit friends and family members, and spend time at the park to soak up some sun and socialize.

But what if you’re not dealing with an average day? Social distancing from the coronavirus (COVID-19) is leaving many people in addiction recovery feeling isolated, stressed and bored. Luckily, there are ways you can beat social distancing and keep your recovery going strong!

The Effects of Isolation on Addiction and Recovery

Isolation, loneliness and addiction work together to create a vicious cycle. In fact, this is why addiction is often referred to as a “disease of isolation” or the loneliest disease. In many cases, it’s feelings of loneliness and isolation that lead to substance abuse. Crippling fear, guilt and denial become too much to handle and the only solution is drinking or getting high.

Perhaps this brings back memories of your own when you were struggling with alcohol addiction or drug abuse. You may have struggled with social anxiety, intense depression or feelings of not fitting in, so you turned to substance use to cope.

In turn, substance abuse sparks additional loneliness, isolation and boredom. Drinking and drug abuse perpetuate and intensify destructive behaviors, which damages relationships and pushes family members and loved ones away. Even if your substance use started out as a way to try to fix your loneliness, addiction only fed into greater isolation and mental health struggles.

Fortunately, addiction treatment helped you get to the bottom of your addiction and break the cycle of isolation to avoid relapse. But with social distancing threatening all the progress you’ve made, what are you to do?

5 Ways to Avoid Isolation and Boredom During Social Distancing

While you may not be able to go to your usual AA meetings, there’s still plenty that can keep you busy and connected to avoid relapse temptations. These activities include:

1. Virtual Support Meetings. In the wake of social distancing and shelter-at-home orders, many organizations are ramping up virtual support meetings for those in addiction recovery. While video conferencing can’t fully replace in-person meetings, it allows you to see and communicate with others in recovery to help you stay connected and supported during this time.

2. Do Video Chats with Family and Friends. Healthy personal relationships can help you feel happy and fulfilled. Of course, this can be difficult when you can’t physically spend time with the people you love. Until social distancing protocols are lifted, stay connected with family and friends through daily video chats. Talking and laughing with loved ones on calls can improve your mood and help you feel less alone during this time.

3. Stay with Loved Ones if You Can. Living alone has its perks, but it can feel overwhelming when you’re not supposed to go out and socialize. As a solution, why not try to stay with a family member or friend for a while? Assuming you both are healthy, temporarily living together can provide you and your loved one with the companionship and support you both need.

4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation. Social distancing doesn’t throw a wrench into all your relapse prevention tactics. Meditation can help reduce stress from boredom and isolation, relieve anxiety, improve your mood and help you manage alcohol or drug cravings. And as a bonus, you can meditate from the comfort and safety of your own home. Since shelter-at-home orders don’t limit your ability to go outside, try meditating on your patio or balcony to breathe in the fresh air before returning inside.

5. Indulge in Healthy Hobbies and Passions. Look at social distancing as an opportunity to focus on your personal growth, talents and interests. Have you been meaning to build an online portfolio or blog to showcase your skills? Start it today. Have you wanted to further your education or learn something new? Get the college enrollment process started or check out places like Coursera for free online classes. No matter what you enjoy or what your personal goals are, use this time to pursue them.

You Can Always Get Support at The Raleigh House

At The Raleigh House, we know better than most how dangerous isolation, loneliness and boredom can be for those either struggling with addiction or trying to maintain their recovery. As an essential business, we are still open during this COVID-19 outbreak to provide evidence-based and holistic treatment.

Our treatment and recovery approach are built on high standards for our clients, and we’re taking the necessary steps to keep all our clients and staff safe during this time. With an 8-bed detoxification program and 14-bed residential program, we remain committed to smaller treatment settings that are personalized to your specific needs, supporting health, wellness and recovery.

If you’re struggling with addiction or if you’ve relapsed, the best place you can be to get your recovery on track and protect yourself from COVID-19 is our wellness lodge outside of Denver.

To get started or to learn more about addiction treatment at The Raleigh House, fill out our form or contact us today.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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