Staying Sober and Sane during this COVID-19 crisis 47

Staying Sober & Sane During
This COVID-19 Crisis

Staying Sober and Sane during this COVID-19 crisis 48

By Lionel Estrada

Addiction Counselor

March 18th 2020

With the Covid-19 pandemic entering and disrupting virtually every aspect of our lives, there is more at risk than our toilet paper supplies, that is sobriety…and sanity. As recovery is based on a program of action, healthy actions need to be taken to stay in recovery. Persons struggling with substance abuse disorder (SUD) now find themselves without a meeting to go to heightening the risk of relapse, especially those new to recovery. Those with co-occurring disorders such as SUD coupled with anxiety and/or depression may find an exacerbation of their mental health issues stemming from fear of getting sick, losing their jobs and livelihood. There are also those who are caring for people with mental health and substance abuse issues who also need to mind their minds during this offsetting time. .

Ways to hold on to your sobriety without losing your mind

1. Calm the f*ck down (CFD)! The media is filled with hundreds of messages every day about Covid-19. Some are viable, providing factual information and governmental initiatives that can offer guidelines to staying healthy and the realities of what may be around the corner. Social media is the quickest way to spread disinformation, conspiracy theories and fear mongering. Choose one reputable media outlet to get your FACTS and stay off the rest. You may be using social media more to connect to friends and family but avoid getting sucked into discussions that create fear and panic. The Facebook Toilet Paper Hoarding group is probably not a good choice, so unplug a little and CFD!

2. Stay in recovery! With large meeting halls temporarily closing their doors per the government guidelines, finding a meeting will be (and is already) challenging. However, do not let this deter you from following your recovery program. Call your sponsor, reach out to others in your peer group and work your steps. For 12 steppers, all you need is another person, a Big Book, some coffee and you have a meeting. There are online meetings (http://aa-intergroup.org/directory.php), speaker tapes on YouTube, and numerous apps you can use to have your own virtual meetings, (Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, etc.). As your sponsor has said before all of this went down, “there’s no excuse for missing a meeting.” This is also a great time to get caught up on your step work and break out that dusty Big Book!

3. Manage your mental health. For those with anxiety, depression and other co-occurring disorders this can be a time of panic and/or despair and it is important to stay vigilant with your mental health directives. First off, take your meds!!! Stay up on your doctor’s instructions, make sure you check your refill dates and stay healthy. Referring back to #1…CFD! Limiting your social media intake is critical for sanity and staying in touch with your therapist is paramount. Stay on your routine and reach out at the first sign of obsessive thinking before the behavior takes over. Remember, this too shall pass. You are OK and you are not alone. 

4. Be good to yourself. While I am no means a doctor, I do know that the Covid-19 hits harder for those who have weakened immune systems so power up on those antioxidants, eat healthy foods and try to stay active. With gyms closing, bust out some push-ups, take a walk and enjoy some fresh air. Fire up YouTube, dust off the yoga mat and get in some Oms. You can even find some old Jazzercise videos for a retro approach. Basically, “let’s get physical”…too much? OK.

5. Focus on your spirituality. I would say this may be the most important thing you can do which encompasses all the other tips and tricks. Pray and meditate, rinse and repeat. Connect to your Higher Power, to your Creator, to your Source, to your God. If you are connected to a religion, I bet your place of worship has some online services and messages for you. Use them. Again, we can go to YouTube for guided and unguided mediations to connect (and CFD) to our spiritual life. Read spiritual literature and practice what they preach. Be kind and don’t spread hate (or hoard TP). Stay out of fear by trusting the Power that connects you to all things spiritual. Faith and fear cannot reside in the same space. Choose your space wisely. Stay connected to those you love and be there for those in need. 

Recovery is a “we” deal. We can get through this together and we each have our part to play. Play it wisely. Take care of yourself. You are worth it.

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