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6 Substance Use Recovery Tips During COVID-19

COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. For those with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs), multiply that by 100.

As a former Substance Abuse Counselor, I have seen first-hand the ravaging effects of this pandemic on the lives of many clients. From losing employment to losing homes, those with SUDs are being hit hard with numerous difficulties and barriers.

Here are my top 6 recovery support tips for those with SUDs during COVID-19:

Reach out to sober supportive friends and family.

Times are tough, you know that more than a lot of us. There are friends out there who care about you and want you to succeed. Make it a priority to text, call, or Zoom with sober supportive friends on the regular. We all get by through our support systems – set and maintain those sober supports by checking in daily. They need your support as well!

Avoid Triggers.

If you have ever been in treatment, you know these words: “People, Places, and Things.” These can be major triggers that you can avoid by being proactive in your recovery.

One way to start being proactive is by writing down your “People, Places, and Things” and how you can avoid them. For example, if you write down “When I get around Joe, I always end up drinking/using,” then you know that being around Joe is a trigger. From that point, try brainstorming how you can avoid being around Joe. Then, when Joe texts or calls you or stops by, put that plan into action.

One example would be responding to Joe with your “Broken Record Response.” A Broken Record Response would sound like this: “No Joe, I have quit (drinking/using/fill in the blank). Do not offer it to me or bring it around me anymore. Period. I have my life on track. Goodbye.”

If Joe continues to approach you in any way, return to your Broken Record Response. Joe will eventually get the point – if he doesn’t, block his number.

Maintain a Routine.

Keeping a daily and nightly routine and following it rigorously can prevent you from being tempted by triggers that are outside of your planned routine.

Check out online NA/AA or SMART recovery meetings.

Daily, consistent recovery support is available! This site offers several options:

Check for local social and family resources.

  • Your local public library can often assist with writing resumes and applying to jobs online.

  • Your local Health Department offers assistance with these things:

    • Smoking cessation

    • H.A.N.D.S. (Health, Access, Nurturing, Development Services) program

    • W.I.C. (Women, Infants, and Children) program

    • COVID-19 testing

    • Syringe Exchange program which offers free syringes

    • A skilled recovery support worker to talk to.

    • Treatment and recovery resources

  • Your local Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) can assist with Food Stamps and medical cards.

  • Kentucky River Foothills offers coordination with a variety of local programs including the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which assists with heating bills when funds are available.

  • Your child’s school system will likely have a Family Resource and Youth Services Center that can likely assist with backpacks, Christmas gifts, and coordinating with other local resources.

  • If you are working with a local therapist in your recovery, you may have access to case management services. A case manager can assist you with finding resources such as housing, employment, food, etc.

Seek treatment.

If you have had a lapse or relapse – know that it is not the end of the world. You can return to recovery!

Talking to a qualified substance abuse counselor or therapist through Telehealth can help.

In some cases, Intensive Outpatient (I.O.P.) therapy or in-patient treatment options may better suit your specific situation. Research online at home or at your local library to find out what you feel would work best for you.

You can get through this. We can help.

Laura Cooper, CSW, MSSW, TCADC

Clinical Social Worker

Laura enjoys helping clients empower themselves with stress management techniques, coping skills, and necessary resources along their journey to improved mental health and wellbeing.

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