You may or may not feel it yet, but your time spent in quarantine can be a blessing. Sure, the thought of isolation can, at first, seem scary. You fear to be lonely. You worry, you will get bored. Because what thoughts enter our minds when we get lonely and bored? Thoughts of getting high. Does this mean you need tips for staying sober at this time?
You’ve done the hard work to get sober. Now, you must figure out how to stay sober during an unexpected, strange nationwide event, a quarantine.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “quarantine,” it makes me think of a hospital ward or prison cell. The definition of quarantine implies just that, separating a person who has been exposed to a disease, from the rest of the population.
Depending on perspective, some people picture a quarantine leading to an episode of The Walking Dead where zombies roam the street, and if you are bitten, you will become a zombie too.
Okay, that is a bit extreme. But you can likely agree that perspectives can get out of hand. That’s why it is crucial to put your circumstances into a realistic perspective.
If Not A Quarantine, Then What?
The word “quarantine” can be confusing. And misleading so, let’s replace the word “quarantine” with something more accurate like we are “limiting the spread of the coronavirus.” Our country has been taking positive steps, so fewer people will come into contact with those who may have the coronavirus. We are implementing prevention techniques for our protection.
Once we have a grip on what is going on, we can start to implement the relapse prevention tips you have learned to help you stay sober. Not only while you are temporarily stuck at home, but forever.
Below are five tips that have helped many others succeed in recovery during times like these.
1. Be Honest
You know those times when you tell yourself or others, “I’ve got this” or “I’m doing great,” but deep down, you are feeling overwhelmed and having cravings? We’ve all done it. We don’t want to burden others with our problems. We want to convince ourselves we are winning.
Not only can this lead to relapse, but it also adds pressure, and later disappointment.
Instead, tell the truth. It is 100% okay to struggle. Addiction is a brain disease. Meaning, the chemicals in your brain are not functioning correctly. One day you will feel secure in your sobriety, and the next day you may feel defeated.
The key to successful recovery is to admit your true feelings to yourself and others, and then take action to prevent a relapse. One of the best ways to do this is to surround yourself with positive influences that help you stay sober.
2. Surround Yourself With Supportive People
You have heard it many times, build a sound support system. This can be easier than you may think. Simply answer some questions about the people you allow in your life.
How do they make me feel? If they make you feel confident and capable, keep them. If they make you feel bad about yourself, encourage you to relapse, or put you on a constant guilt trip, keep them at bay.
Supportive people can even be people you meet online. Listening to the success stories of others is a great motivator. Their stories encourage you to stay on the right track.
Stick With Daily Goals, Not Long-Term
Setting short-term and long-term goals is an integral part of your recovery in “normal” times. During the COVID19, meeting those goals becomes harder. That’s why setting daily goals is best.
Your first daily goal is to stay sober. Write it in your journal or paint it on your walls. Your main goal is to make it through today without relapsing.
Every night before you go to sleep, think of ways you can stay sober the next day. When you wake up each morning, hit the ground running, implementing those ideas. Intensifying your therapy is one way to help.
3. Intensify Your Therapy
You may be wondering how intensifying, or increasing therapy can be done during a time when you are supposed to isolate. Drug and alcohol addiction specialists have figured this out and have developed plans to help you receive a variety of treatments through online platforms.
Most therapists are holding both individual and group therapy sessions online. They are also providing support groups through HIPAA compliant communication software. Groups like AA and NA have been meeting online for years. You can join several different groups, as well as mental health groups. Plus, you can receive confirmation or a certificate you can print showing you attended the online group.
There are support chat rooms, Facebook groups, and other social media platforms you can join, giving you around the clock access to some form of therapy.
4. Mind Control
Your mind, if left to itself, will try to control you through negative thoughts. It will use memories of getting high, ideas to lower your self-esteem, and justifications to relapse. That is unless you take control of your mind.
You choose which thoughts to believe. And you choose which negative thoughts to replace with positive ones. You can retrain your brain to help you stay sober while staying at home.
There’s a big word for this, neuroplasticity, but you don’t have to remember it. Instead, focus all your energy on recognizing the negative thoughts and feelings, and immediately replacing or redirecting them to something healthier.
For example, if that little voice in your head says, “you’re going to fail,” immediately tell that voice to go away, and repeat a positive statement like, “You can do this. Don’t give up.”
Your thoughts and feelings determine how you will behave. Positive thoughts lead to positive emotions, positive emotions lead to positive actions, and positive actions lead to positive consequences.
You can stay sober during this time and for the rest of your life. You deserve it. Don’t give up.