How Is Social Distancing Impacting Addiction Recovery?

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on June 23, 2020.

These unprecedented times have impacted the lives of almost everyone all over the world. While most are adjusting to the new normal of social distancing, those with existing health problems are wondering how they will manage without the support they normally have. This is especially true for people recovering from addiction. This situation has created unique conditions that can threaten the sobriety of those in recovery.

Here is a look at how social distancing is impacting people in addiction recovery and what they can do to preserve their sobriety.

Altered or Eliminated Support Systems

Those new to addiction recovery are in a tenuous place. They may need daily interactions with their addiction counselors or medically assisted treatments to help control cravings. Social distancing means that many of these services have been paused, eliminating this crucial form of support.

What You Can Do

It's important to find ways to connect with your support system. Thankfully, many addiction treatment providers are exploring new options, such as telemedicine as a way to communicate with those in need. They are also providing a variety of self-help tools online. While social distancing has altered the way we meet, support is still available.

Worsened Mental Health Conditions

It's not uncommon for those struggling with drugs or alcohol to also have an underlying mental health concern. Whether it's anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, the stress of a pandemic can worsen these co-occurring mental health conditions.

What You Can Do

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, remember that help is available — even in the midst of social distancing. Many therapists and addiction counselors are offering remote therapy sessions for the duration of this crisis.

Isolation, Loneliness and Disengagement

Loneliness is one of the emotional conditions that can leave you vulnerable and at risk for relapse. Social distancing has caused many to feel more isolated and disengaged, even from their friends and family. Loneliness may cause those in recovery to return to drugs or alcohol for comfort.

What You Can Do

While you may not be able to be there physically, it's important to connect with others who care about you and your recovery journey. Use apps like FaceTime or Zoom to connect and talk. Stay involved through social media, or simply pick up the phone and call them. Make it clear to your friends and family that you're struggling with loneliness and that you could use some help.

Neglected Self-Care

During rehab and addiction treatment, you learned how essential self-care is to your recovery. However, this change in circumstances is causing many people in recovery to neglect their most basic needs.

What You Can Do

The one benefit many are enjoying because of social distancing is more time. Time to learn or re-learn healthy habits, like nutritious eating and exercise. Time to practice mindfulness and relaxation. Time to acquire new skills or enjoy hobbies. Instead of neglecting your self-care, try adopting as many healthy habits into your routine as possible.

Get Help for Addiction at Diamond House Detox

There are many pathways during recovery. These tips represent possibilities that can help you maintain your sobriety in the midst of social distancing. If the pressure of this time has led to relapse, Diamond House Detox is here for you. Contact us today to learn about our individualized approach to addiction recovery.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet