A New Reality
It’s like the world ended. And in many ways, it did. You can’t go to work. Can’t attend school. Can’t meet up for lunch with friends. News footage shows barren streets. There weren’t any holidays, really. For the first time in its existence, the NYC NYE ball drop had virtually no one present. The entire world feels like a ghost town. When things finally did open back up, we’ve all had to wear masks. We’ve had to relearn how to wash our hands. We’ve been sterilizing door knobs and handles. Many places even installed footplates to prevent us from having to open doors with our hands. Toilet paper disappeared from shelves. Story after story, post after post. Everywhere, people were getting sick. Hospitals were so full, they turned people away.
What Is “Normal” Anyway?
You didn’t know which way was up. Truth and falsehood were stitched so closely together, you couldn’t even trust your own thoughts. Let alone anyone else’s. We became so afraid. We were overwrought with anxiety. We feared for our health. We feared food shortages. We suffered a collective trauma. Not as individuals, or families, or even countries. But the whole planet. And we’ve been living in that state for over a year. We’ve been carrying on as best we could. But we’ve had no release. No relief. We’ve waited for “normal” to come back. For things to go back to the way they were before. We’re in a new reality now. That new reality has placed demands and responsibilities on us that the old one did not.
Isolation And Alcohol
Quarantine isolates us from the world. The intention, of course, is to protect our health. But the advantage of quarantine (not getting sick) can turn into its biggest downside. Isolation might indeed keep us from contracting COVID-19. No one will dispute that. But what about our mental health? If we cut ourselves off from the most meaningful relationships in our lives, we’re asking for trouble. To cope with the isolation, you might begin (or resume) drinking. And it might make you feel better. It might ease you into sleep at night. But drinking has repercussions. And not just for your mind. Along with your judgment, alcohol impairs your immune system. It causes inflammation in your gut, killing off bacteria that keep you healthy. An unhealthy immune system increases your risk of getting sick – with something like COVID-19. Moreover, alcohol will not make a fit substitute for authentic social interaction.
Depression And Alcohol
New research from the University of Arizona indicates an astronomical increase in alcohol abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t a surprise given the restrictive quarantines and lockdowns. If your cornerstone relationships are compromised, you essentially have no support system. But alcohol cannot replace your family. It can’t interact with you at work. It can’t encourage you, talk to you, or be intimate with you. It can’t give you the feedback you need to become a more whole person. Alcohol and depression often co-occur. Suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) doubles your risk of developing major depression (MD). The reverse can also be true. An affliction of major depression often precedes alcohol abuse.
Online Recovery Meetings
No one denies the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, no one denies the importance of meaningful relationships for our health and growth. But what do we do when we can’t convene in public? How do we participate in recovery during this time? Fortunately, our age of technology presents some tangible solutions. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Refuge Recovery, and a number of other 12-step programs offer Zoom meetings. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation set up an online community called The Daily Pledge. Unity Recovery, WEconnect, SOS Recovery, and Alano Club offer Zoom meetings. Participants can choose whether or not to use their cameras and can mute their audio. No one is required to share. For more recovery resources, check out this list from SAMHSA.
Appointments with your therapist represent a critical part of your recovery. Especially during this time of quarantine. If you have a regular therapist, ask about digital sessions. If you don’t, look for a provider that allows for telehealth meetings. These might happen via Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, or other platforms. If you don’t have access to a computer, many services like these have apps you can download on your phone. Use technology to your advantage! Keep your individual appointments with your therapist and/or counselor. Doing so maintains your prescriptions. It will help you decompress from anxiety and depression. Staying committed to your appointments helps you remain focused on your recovery process.
GrubHub, DoorDash, Uber Eats and their ilk help out a lot, don’t they? With restaurants operating at limited capacity, your favorite foods are a few taps away. Nothing wrong with an occasional indulgence. But chances are, you’ve learned how proper nutrition affects your recovery. If you were in treatment prior to the pandemic, refresh your memory about diet. Keep your macronutrients in mind: protein, fat, carbohydrates. Do your best to eat foods with one ingredient. Bored of making the same meals over and over? Try a cookbook! Prefer to watch videos or take a course? Sites like Skillshare have a TON of cooking classes for you to look through.
We’ve been told not to gather in groups. But no one’s told us that we must stay indoors for 24 hours a day. Just 10-30 minutes of sunshine a day makes a tremendous difference in your health. The sun is the human body’s main source of Vitamin D. A sufficient amount of vitamin D helps keep our bones healthy. Sunlight reduces inflammation, balances our calcium, and supports the immune system. But those aren’t the only benefits of sunlight. Adequate time in the sun also improves your mood; it reduces both anxiety and depression. You needn’t do anything strenuous to reap these benefits. Grab a book or some headphones and go sit in your backyard for a bit. That’s hardly the worst way to spend your quarantine.
Recovery During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you’d like more information about how Midwood Addiction Treatment can help your recovery during quarantine, call us now at (704) 741-0771.