Addiction, in all its forms, has provided more effective social distancing than any U.S. state governor, European leader, or even China’s President himself could ever hope to implement (in response to a viral pandemic or any other global disaster).
If you are looking to live a life of isolation, being cut off from family and friends, or becoming just another jobless statistic standing in line at the unemployment office on your designated day-of-the-week, get yourself addicted.
Often, you actually get to choose your “drug of choice” – illicit recreational drugs, alcohol (they sell that stuff legally in shops, bars, restaurants, and the discount store on the corner if they’re allowed to be open and accepting customers), or even prescription opioid painkillers – your own doctor deals out that those little baggies of euphoria, and from his own office, too.
Other times, though, your supposed drug of choice is no choice at all.
I never chose to become a drunk and a coke addict – in reality, no one actively chooses the life of an alcoholic and drug addict. However, my lifestyle began to creep up on me, slowly but surely, and the realization was slow too. I fought against it, as addicts do, but if it wasn’t for the intervention of my parents, I’d probably be dead now. Fortunately, they got me into a Pennsylvania drug rehab and saved my then-miserable life.
That was over 6 years ago now, during which, through their support, and a wide and helpful network too, I have remained clean and sober. Undoubtedly, the hardest battle of my life, but the difference in me is unfathomable now.
So how do you fight something that has isolated you so perfectly, severely damaging or even ending family relationships, marriages, romantic relationships, and any other friendships, and has affected you harder financially than coronavirus will ever do, terminating employment contracts and putting people on the street, homeless and lost? Seriously, how do you fight something so powerful?
One word. Support.
You’ll never beat addiction – medically described as “a chronic, relapsing brain disorder” – on your own. No way.
Look Beyond Who You Know
If you think you are going to find all the right support – support you really need – within your circle of family and friends, think again. Yes, they will form a healthy part of any support network that you create, but they knew you when you were an addict, and so will have certain preconceptions, ideas, and old wounds even. You would be looking for a positive experience and knowledgeable advice that simply isn’t there.
If you’re part of a professional treatment program, that’s the perfect place to begin building your support network, through peers within support groups and asking the clinicians and other staff for their assistance. They can guide you as to where you can source the support you will need.
Look For Understanding
When it comes to achieving recovery from something as powerful as substance addiction, you need to find real understanding when it matters most. Speaking with others who have struggled with addiction (and know exactly what you’re talking about) makes an absolutely huge difference. That is why fellowship communities such as Alcoholics Anonymous can be successful.
Attending and participating in AA or Na meetings (even if they are currently online at the moment) provides you with instant access to support. Additionally, if you’re in a professional treatment program, stay in touch with them when you leave, as they often run alumni events.
Lastly, by entering into an AA-type fellowship, you may even have the chance to support someone else when you have become more settled and assured in your own recovery – a great way to give back.
Look to Improve Existing Relationships
Your addiction may not have broken your family relationships or friendships, but it will have damaged them. Undoing and mending that damage requires you to be 100% open and honest from now on. Rebuilding those relationships will take time and the presence of newly-found trust, so work hard at these and you will be rewarded.
If you have family or friends that are now part of your support network, let them know what you need from them occasionally – a friendly voice on the phone, or someone to spend time with you – when times are difficult or challenging for you.
If you are in a rehab program, learn skills and techniques to improve your strained relationships – they may well offer a form of family therapy as well.
Look For New, Healthy Interests
Finding and actively participating in new hobbies, sports and interests will provide you with new community connections, especially if you search online for sober clubs, etc. You’ll meet new people who share your interests, allowing you to expand your social circle, but now in a healthy way. Furthermore, you’ll learn a new interest that has nothing to do with your old addicted self, helping you find a new identity as you move forward.
That’s my advice to you if you are going through addiction treatment. Think about who can support you from this point on. Start looking now! In summary:
- Look Beyond Who You Know
- Look For Understanding
- Find Ways to Improve Existing Relationships
- Look For New, Healthy Interests
My best wishes to you as you continue your journey to recovery.
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