Being bound inside one’s own home as of late presents an array of unforeseen challenges. However, for someone recovering from alcohol addiction, these issues can all compound into an urge to begin drinking again. Stressors, either on social media or at home, all create a need to escape and decompress. Understandably, the urge to drink is ever-present. Understanding why these temptations are so strong around this time and what to do to satisfy the urges is essential in maintaining sobriety during constantly changing and unsure times.
How It Creates Temptations
One of the greatest adversaries to continued sobriety during quarantine is simply time. Combined with the feelings of isolation, it is easy to get lost in one’s mind while sifting through memories and new stresses. This opens the door for temptations to occur in one of the two most common ways. First, the constant feelings of change can leave someone pining for the familiarity of the past. Looking at the past is understandable. Once upon a time, we could hang out with friends without concern or go out without having a checklist to fill. Yet this is usually a package deal, and the familiarity of the past may inadvertently include wanting to drink with friends again. Even the innocuous idea of wanting to go back to the beach with friends may be a triggering event. Consider whether a place has connotations with alcohol, even if that isn’t the ultimate goal.
The second door is the idea of wanting to break free from stress altogether. Many entertainment venues are closed due to quarantine. COVID-19 has hit movie theatres, batting cages, etc. These activities may have been a method of expending energy and keeping one distracted from the urges. Unfortunately, they are currently unavailable. Going through recovery and staying sober is already a challenging prospect. The difficulties can become even more prevalent under the new restrictions that the coronavirus has brought with it. However, there are still options available for maintaining sobriety during this time.
Access to Support Systems
While getting together for physical gatherings is challenging to do safely, there are still ways to keep in contact. Maintaining ties with one’s support systems is paramount in combating the sense of isolation that comes with quarantine. Try calling a family member once a day, even if there is no particular reason or question. Keep conversations going and maintain a level of social interaction.
Calling, texting, emailing, instant messaging, and especially FaceTime are all tools to accomplish this. However, make sure that the messages are direct and private – where it can just be a correspondence between two or three people. Avoid using completely public mediums, as it can easily add to the wall between people. Keeping things intentional and personal is key in making one feel genuinely connected to another person.
Even if some of one’s hobbies are more difficult to participate in, there are still options available for keeping the body moving and preoccupied with activities outside of drinking alcohol. These things don’t necessarily have to be complicated, either. The effects of going for a run, or playing catch with a loved one can hold many of the same results. Even an indoor workout routine can provide a lot of aid in keeping one’s mind off of alcohol and away from the urges to drink again. While it is more complicated, staying active is more important than ever, for the benefit of the recovery process and one’s own physical health.
Keep a Schedule
Just because there may not be a reason for you to get out of bed and get dressed in the morning doesn’t mean that is isn’t important anymore. Keeping a schedule of time, activities, and keeping up on one’s hygiene all help to improve overall feelings about yourself. Poor physical or mental health are weapons that a relapse can use against someone in recovery. Keeping a schedule or routine that involves dedicated time for exercise, a morning alarm, and consistent bedtimes can provide much-needed structure. Furthermore, this can keep you busy enough to mitigate the influence that any urge to drink may have.
The stresses of the world and feelings of isolation are difficult to deal with. Maintaining sobriety amongst this time is excruciatingly painful, but not impossible. Instead of looking too far into the past to find a way to gain normalcy, there are still ways to create a new normal that is conducive to ongoing sobriety. Support systems are still in place, whether physical or otherwise.
Keeping constant contact rather than waiting for a crisis can prevent urges from surfacing in the first place. Instead of a theatre, decide with the family a movie that everyone wants to watch, then watch on-demand, and call to talk about the movie afterward to discuss it. This social interaction will go a long way, and the structure will help maintain one’s own personal health.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or maintaining sobriety, Alta Centers is available to help. Using a modern take on detox and aftercare, Alta Centers understands the recovery process. We can help you address your unique complications that new social lifestyles may bring. For more information on Alta Centers and their programs, contact one of their caring professionals at 1-888-202-2583.