We’ve now been in a pandemic for over a year. It’s been a hard time for a lot of people. Still, there are things to take from this experience—not to brush aside what we’ve been through, but to provide a blueprint for the future. When I think back to my early sobriety in 2015, I imagine that some of the tools I built this year could have been useful.
Examining Your Relationship Substances
First, it allowed us to look at our behaviors more deeply. I’ll be six years sober in August 2021, so I’m not new, but this year really put a magnifying glass to my other addictive behaviors. It showed me how I cope when I’m faced with a ton of stress and some of my ways of coping—like in-person support from friends—are stripped away.
For many still in active addiction when the pandemic started—or even those who don’t consider themselves addicted—it made the problems with their relationship to substances clearer. Addiction rates have gone up overall, but I have also heard anecdotally of many people getting sober or reevaluating their relationship to alcohol. Seeing your problem is the first big step towards making a change, and the pandemic accelerated that for some.
COVID-19 also forced us to practice sitting in uncertainty. Remember when it looked like everything would be shut down for two weeks and then COVID-19 would be in the past? Over a year later, think about how many times our expectations and circumstances have changed.
You can prepare to get sober, and it is very helpful to do so, but there’s a ton of uncertainty in early sobriety. There’s an oft-quoted AA aphorism about taking it “one day at a time” when you first get sober; I heard this repeated a lot at the beginning of the pandemic, too.
A Huge Change
A new virus swept across the entire world, changing everything about our lives. While recovery is an absolutely wonderful experience—the best decision I ever made, not a virus—it shares the quality of upending your life. You have to learn to face each new thing without alcohol or drugs. Sometimes you have to change practical things about your life, like where you hang out, who you hang out with, or what you do to socialize. The way many of us socialized changed tremendously because of COVID, too.
While we’re processing the trauma, grief, anxiety, and other painful repercussions of COVID-19, it can bring hope to also reflect onthe useful lessons we’ve learned. Getting sober is often very hard, but you made it through this year; you can make it through anything.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build coping skills to get you through early recovery and beyond. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.