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Disease Of Isolation: Addiction and Covid-19 a Risky Combination

6 minute read

Addiction is a relationship between a person and a substance. Defined as a chronic medical disorder, addiction is the continued use of a substance despite the consequences. When a person has substance use disorder, they are only focused on their relationship with the drug or alcohol.

 Friends, family, and significant others are no longer important. Addiction is labeled “the disease of isolation.” With Coronavirus and stay-at-home orders causing everyone to isolate, the risk of addiction is growing by the day. 

Addiction and Isolation Risks 

Humans are social creatures. Interactions with others are vital to a person’s mental and emotional health. Addiction ruins a person’s ability to maintain and build healthy relationships, and this can lead to an individual isolating themselves. 

An individual who starts using drugs and drinking alcohol will begin showing changes. Friends and family may begin noticing the following changes. 

  • Neglecting important relationships
  • Mood swings/ Irritable
  • Anger/ Irrational
  • Less affectionate
  • Secrecy
  • Isolation
  • Dishonesty
  • Manipulation
  • Abusive
  • High-risk behavior

With Covid-19 causing everyone to isolate, it is easy to hide a substance use disorder. An individual who lives alone can easily avoid interacting with people, just turn off the phone. In the world of addiction, this scenario is a breeding ground for substance abuse. 

Isolation alone can lead to anxiety and depression. When you can’t leave your house or visit with friends and family, a person’s substance use disorder can get rapidly worse. An individual feels like the only way to deal with the emotions and feelings is to drown themselves in drugs and alcohol.

Covid-19 and Isolation Doesn’t Mean Alone: Telehealth

In this day of technology, people can still have interactions with others. All a person needs is a smartphone or a computer with internet access. Feel like having a drink? Pick up the telephone and dial the seven digits. Fighting the urge to pop that pill? Open the laptop and log in to a 12-step meeting. It doesn’t matter the time of day, where you live, or what addiction you are battling. You are NOT alone. 

Smartphone apps and video calling services have made connecting with people more accessible than ever. These technologies have been extremely helpful in helping people battle addiction. 

Video Calling

This is the newest way everyone is keeping in touch with families. It is the closest feeling to in-person conversations. This is a great resource to beat the feelings of loneliness. With Covid-19 making everyone stay home, video calling is on the rise. In the treatment of substance use disorder, video calling is extremely helpful. It can be easy to hide an issue with addiction when talking to someone over the phone or texting. But when you can look at a person in the eyes, it is hard to hide a substance use disorder. 

Physical interactions with other sober people are a significant benefit to 12-steep meetings. A person fighting substance use disorder needs someone to hold their hand or comfort them when the road gets rough. With 12-step meetings being ordered to cease, video conferencing became the way to attend meetings. The connection that in-person meetings create can be hard to get used to. Programs like Zoom, Google Suites, and FaceTime are instrumental in staying sober. 

Smartphone apps 

Applications for addiction are low-cost tools to help you on your recovery journey. These apps are designed based on behavioral change models and social media support. Features include quick access to meetings and support groups, sobriety trackers, motivational notifications, and educational resources. Smartphone apps are not meant to replace professional help. These apps are a resource for helping you continue your path to sobriety. 

Beat The Isolation of Addiction

It is easy to feel lonely when you are deep in addiction. Once this feeling starts, it is difficult to make them stop. Feelings of loneliness include:

  • Inability to connect with others – emotionally or physically
  • Sadness
  • No one cares
  • Abandoned
  • No one likes you
  • Discontent
  • Left out
  • Hopeless
  • It will never end

Beat Isolation in Addiction Recovery

Isolation is a crucial barrier to break when entering treatment. A substance use disorder may start due to loneliness. A person may have issues connecting with others, which are complicated even more with addiction. The compulsion to use creates more isolation. The desire to get high and escape reality becomes more important than relationships with people. 

When a person enters a treatment program, they are not only fighting addiction. Overcoming the isolation of addiction brings new challenges. 

A few ways to overcome the challenges include:

Allow Yourself to Grieve.

Before a person enters rehab, their life revolved around drugs and alcohol. They were your best friend. They never let you down. Seeking treatment means the loss of a best friend. This can leave a person feeling hurt, angry, and lonely. The friendship between the substance and the individual was one-sided. The substance only destroyed the individual’s life.

Make Amends.  

And when you can’t make amends, then find peace. Substance use disorder hurts the ones we love the most. The lying and disrespect have caused many friends and family to walk away. Not because they hate the person, but they hate the substance. They hate who the substance has made the individual. They are hurt and confused. Most relationships can be repaired. Sincere apologies and positive actions go a long way to mending relationships. 

Disconnect from Unhealthy Relationships

When a person starts treatment, they want to fix all the broken relationships. Not all relationships are healthy, sober ones. Unhealthy relationships do not have a place in a new sober life. It is vital to evaluate each relationship and cut off ties with anyone who does not support a sober lifestyle.

Build Boundaries and Self-Confidence. 

As hard as it is, it is essential to connect with people. Stepping out of your comfort zone and talking to someone helps build self-confidence. You are a fantastic person, and the world deserves to see it! 

Building a support system is vital to recovery. While developing new relationships and repairing old ones, it is crucial to also set boundaries. Building boundaries keeps a person mentally healthy and continues the desire to stay sober

Addiction Relapse Craves Isolation

The craving for isolation is a significant influence of addiction relapse. Coronavirus has made everyone isolate to their homes. This is a risky combination addiction starts a war in your brain. 

A person starts to convince themself they are not like other people. They can just use once and not touch it again. Addiction is not a friend! Addiction is a liar. The moment a person starts convincing themselves they are different is the minute relapse begins. When a person is lonely, it can be hard to reach out for help, but this is when a person needs to most. Instead of picking up a drink or a drug, pick up a phone or a computer. 

Dealing With Relapse Cravings

When an individual thinks about using again, they are sure it will only be one time. They are living in a fantasy world. One drink WILL lead to more. And the next day will bring regret and disappointment. This becomes a vicious cycle that can only lead back to full-blown addiction.  

When a person is alone, that is when the cravings strike the hardest. No one will know you relapsed; it can be a secret. Take a moment and think about the consequences. Is that one hit off the pipe worth all the hard work you have put into sobriety?

Tell Someone

Call a friend, log into a 12-step meeting. You don’t have to leave your home, but you do have to tell someone. The minute you start to talk about the cravings and the destructive thoughts, they go away. The power of isolation has been taken away, and you are no longer alone. 

Find Distractions

Stop unhealthy thoughts by finding something to do. Go for a walk. Make a cake. Learn a new hobby. By sitting with your thoughts, the cravings get more vigorous. And the chances of relapse increase. 

Give Yourself 30 minutes

Cravings usually last 15-30 minutes. It can seem like forever, but you can do it. Write down your thoughts. Take a hot shower. You can get through it. 

Find Time to Relax 

Finding time to relax is essential for preventing relapse. Stress brings on the want to escape. Take a deep breath and relax. 2 minutes of meditation can reset your mindset and get you through the cravings. 

Footprints To Recovery Can Help You Beat The Disease of Isolation

With every passing day that keeps people in their homes, the disease of isolation gets worse.

Some people who do not have internet access, or their disease is deep and complicated.  Inpatient treatment may be their only option. The fear of contracting Coronavirus can stop some from seeking treatment.

If you or a loved one is battling a substance use disorder, our caring staff is waiting to help you. At Footprints to Recovery, we understand all your fears, and we are here to answer all your questions. We understand the increasing need for addiction treatment during this pandemic. There is no reason to be fighting this disease alone. Contact us today!


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