The holiday season has always been a difficult time for many people who are recovering from substance abuse. But with the Covid-19 pandemic haunting the whole world for several months now, this will surely be an extra challenging period. In this post, we listed down the possible challenges that people in recovery could encounter during the pandemic holidays. We will also provide some tips that could be helpful in overcoming these issues.
1. Being alone during the holidays
The pandemic has made words like quarantine, lockdown, and social distancing a part of everyday conversations. With the continuous rise of Covid-19 cases all over the world, repeated lockdowns are still being put in place. We are all advised to only go out for essential business such as work or grocery shopping. The pandemic has also made it difficult for many people to travel or gather with their family and loved ones especially with news reports citing celebrations as superspreader events – meaning one of the easiest ways to infect multiple people.
It will not be unusual then for many people in recovery to find themselves alone during the holidays, especially if they live away from their loved ones. Younger people in recovery may also find it risky to go home to their parents’ home as seniors are more susceptible to Covid-19.
This isolation can be very tough as it can result in depression and may lead to relapse.
How to cope:
Connect virtually with friends and family. If you are unable to be with your family physically, spend time with them by video calling or messaging them constantly. You can also organize Zoom holiday parties so you can still be with them during the holidays.
2. Usual coping strategies may be unavailable
In previous years, people in recovery use several coping strategies to avoid relapse during the holiday season. These coping strategies can help them avoid boredom so they can put their focus and energies into other things instead of their previous addiction.
Some of the popular coping strategies include attending recovery meetings, going to recovery group events, traveling, going on a sober cruise, going to sober recreational events, and more. The pandemic, however, has made these options limited for many people. Now, there are restrictions on group events and existing safety protocols have made it difficult for people to do many activities as usual.
How to cope:
To avoid boredom, try out new activities that are social-distancing friendly. For physical activities, you can go for outdoor hikes, virtual yoga, indoor cycling at home, or even get virtual dance lessons. You can also try out new hobbies that do not require you to go out like painting, knitting, cooking, baking, and reading.
3. Avoiding alcohol
Alcohol is often synonymous with merry-making. Of course, it is not always possible to ensure that holiday dinners you will attend will be alcohol-free and if you’re trying to stay sober, seeing people drinking during the holidays can be very hard for you. This could tempt you to have “just one drink” and before you know it, you’re on your 5th glass.
How to cope:
If you are going to a family dinner, make sure that you have a non-alcoholic drink option available. If you are placed in a situation where you are forced to drink, make a polite excuse and remove yourself from it immediately. There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing your recovery first.
When a person is in recovery, one of the good coping strategies to avoid relapse is to become productive again by finding a job. The pandemic, however, has caused many people to lose their jobs and it has become more difficult for the unemployed to find another job. With all the expenses associated with the holidays, unemployment can create stress and anxiety.
How to cope:
There are many “gig” jobs available online through mobile apps like Gigworker, Fiverr, Upwork, TaskRabbit, and more. While these are not full-time jobs, they can help you find a quick source of income in the meantime. You can also use your free time to enroll in free online courses so you can strengthen your skills when applying for a job.
5. Dealing with loss and grief
Over a million people have died due to Covid-19. For someone in recovery with a loved one who passed away due to the pandemic, the holiday season can be a very difficult time. Dealing with loss and grief especially during a time when people are supposed to be celebrating can cause someone to turn to substances like alcohol and drugs.
How to cope:
Dealing with loss is not easy. Give yourself time to accept what happened and find people to talk to so you can share your feelings. You can also join virtual support groups so you can find help on how to deal with the pain.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.