The Importance of Staying Connected During Recovery in Isolation
TTUHSC Expert Explains Addiction and Ways to Keep Social Distancing from Effecting Recovery
Scientific definition of addiction: a brain disease that results from repeated and escalated exposure to a substance or a series of behaviors.
People who develop addictions:
- They’re not lazy or not wanting to change.
- They’re dealing with a legitimate brain disease, not a moral failing.
- Recovery is possible. Treatment works when people reach out and stay engaged with the treatment team.
- Addiction has nothing to do with willpower.
- It is not a bad habit which needs to be fixed.
- Addiction does not apply only drugs and alcohol. It also includes gambling, excessive eating or internet gaming disorder.
- Addictions tend to run in families but that does not mean a person is destined to develop an addiction.
- Some people develop an addiction without a prior family history.
Addiction recovery during social isolation and social distancing:
- People in recovery have been through a treatment or support group process and are working on a recovery plan.
- Recovery exists by connecting with and being supported by people struggling with addiction or recovery, or those doing well with recovery.
- Isolation, stress, anxiety and unstructured time contribute to relapse.
- There are online recovery communities, including telemedicine and telehealth options.
- Many in-person recovery groups are still meeting, but following social distancing guidelines.
How family and friends can support someone in recovery:
- Reach out to the person in recovery; it doesn’t have to be a long conversation.
- Staying connected matters.
For those not in recovery:
- Frustration and anxiety make people revert to behaviors which make them comfortable.
- Pay attention to how much time you’re putting into those activities and whether or not they’re contributing to helping you meet your goals throughout the day.
- If a person feels things are getting a bit out of order, there is a chance to correct the situation.
- Important to maintain some semblance of balance.
- Set limits for things that cause anxiety.
- Take care of your health because alcohol, substance use and tobacco use each decrease the ability of the immune system and makes it harder to fight illness.
- Include an appropriate and moderate amount of exercise.
- Get some fresh air.