In a time fraught with fear, isolation, economic downturns and social-distancing, how can people recovering from substance use disorder stay on track?
The general principles are the same as before the pandemic, but sticking with them may take some planning and creativity.
Here are some tips and resources:
- Protect your physical health – Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidance: hand hygiene, social distancing, masks, etc. And call your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of COVID-19. You may be at higher risk for serious effects. Because it attacks the lungs, the virus could be a bigger threat if you smoke tobacco, marijuana or e-cigarettes. If you are a recovering opioid or methamphetamine user, you could be more vulnerable because of those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health.
- Stay the course – If you are in treatment for substance use, maintain contact with your provider. Learn how the necessary COVID-19 distancing policies impact your treatment to ensure you continue with care.
- Stay connected – Connecting with people who can support you in your journey (and those you can support) is the lifeblood of sustainable recovery. In response to the pandemic’s effect on in-person meetings of support and accountability groups, self-help classes and the like, the 25,000 Arkansans living in recovery now have The Recovery Clinic (facebook.com/TheRecoveryClinicAR/). This Facebook-based platform offers support and empathy, recovery assets and information on an array of resources (like naloxone, medication-assisted treatment, peer recovery systems, etc.). The page features two live broadcasts each week (11 a.m. Wednesday and Saturday) by State Opioid Response Coordinator Jimmy McGill and Christopher Dickie, chief executive officer at Natural State Recovery Centers in Little Rock.
- Manage your stress – Excessive stress can be a trigger for substance use. We all have stress, especially during a pandemic, but keeping it in check can be a big part of staying on your recovery path. For practical tips on how to manage your stress, anxiety and depression during a disaster, see the article on page 11.
- Stay busy – Downtime does not have to lead to old habits. If you’re at home more, off work, etc., focus on helping others, furthering your education or pursuing new or existing hobbies/interests.
For more great strategies, check out the following websites:
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – gov/related-topics/covid-19-resources
- The National Institute of Mental Health – nih.gov/
Arkansas Drug Director’s Office – artakeback.org