Anxiety and Relapse: How to Manage Stress During COVID-19

The unprecedented coronavirus has brought the world to a near halt. Many people are feeling uneasy about the future. Unfortunately, this feeling of hopelessness and doom is leading to anxiety and relapse. As thousands of people across the globe fight for their lives against this dangerous virus, unemployment soars and businesses are doing their best to stay open. 

Unfortunately, the most vulnerable in our society are at risk of contracting the disease. This includes those recovering from substance use and addiction. We are experiencing instability on all levels, including our physical, mental, and emotional health. Individuals doing their best to stay sober could succumb to the stress, which is causing concern in the recovery community.

Expect Relapse Rates to Skyrocket During Crisis

The added stress and uncertainty can trigger people in recovery who aim to live substance-free. We understand feeling this way, and the inability to gather for meetings can make one feel isolated. It may prompt a person to trade their sobriety for the comfort they once felt when drinking or using drugs. This is a common phenomenon that follows natural disasters and tough economic times. 

Some view relapse as one poor decision that leads to using drugs or alcohol, but it’s a gradual process that could take weeks or months before a person breaks down and uses. A crisis of this magnitude, however, can immediately push someone into the emotional stage of relapse and expedite the process. 

The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) expressed in a report that drug-taking is a way individuals try to cope, but it can have adverse effects. As we mentioned above, relapse is common during times of uncertainty, which can affect your whole life. 

Those who use drugs and alcohol may not take care of themselves and become more vulnerable to developing the virus. Individuals may place themselves in risky situations to obtain drugs or alcohol that expose them to COVID-19. 

If you are in the early stages of relapse, you must reach out to your sponsor or something you can trust. One thing that you must keep in mind is that this is temporary, but relapse can be fatal, which is permanent. 

COVID-19 & Substance Abuse Statistics

A recent report describes how the pandemic will impact our society’s behavioral health. The March 2020 data was used to pinpoint signs of distress related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The results indicate those who lost their jobs were at risk of becoming anxious or depressed. Individuals in recovery are vulnerable when losing structure in their lives. In addition, when they can’t attend meetings to expel this distress, it could lead to self-medication and relapse. 

Self-Isolation Be Dangerous for Recovery

Isolation is a key contributor to addiction, and it poses a challenge for people with substance use disorders during this crisis. When you add general anxiety surrounding a virus, avoiding addiction becomes even more challenging. The physical and social distance attached to the stay-at-home order makes it easier for people who want to use. 

The inability to talk in person with sponsors or friends can harm someone’s progress when they overcome substance use. Some recovery groups have moved meetings online so they can stay in touch with people in the community. Although it’s not the same as an in-person meeting, talking to someone virtually can help you remain focused on facing what’s ahead. 

How to Cope With the Unknown

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has published tips on how you can safeguard your mental health during these challenging times. A crucial step is to maintain your daily routine and follow a mental health treatment plan. In addition to this, you must practice mindfulness and acceptance. You can find this information here.

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