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Addiction Recovery 2020 – Social Distancing, Isolation, Quarantine?

Addiction Recovery 2020 – Social Distancing, Isolation, Quarantine?

Addiction Recovery 2020 – Social Distancing, Isolation, Quarantine?

I have a friend who says the longer you are in recovery, the less you have to say.  And that makes sense to me, but with the added caveat, less interesting or new things you have to say. Those of us in recovery can prattle on for 30 years about the hows, whys and devils who made us do it. But after writing a personal recovery blog for almost 4 years, I have run out of (interesting/new) ideas to impart. And life has been drama-free. No recent meltdowns with bacon at the ATM – which of course, makes for good blog copy.

Addiction Recovery 2020 – Social Distancing

Suddenly, there is A LOT to think about and write about. Recovery in the time of COVID-19 feels like the pandemic has directed its fury at the aged, infirm and unprotected, but also kind-of at those of us who are living in recovery. Words like “social distancing, isolation and quarantine” are the direct opposite of our marching orders.

We’ve all seen the Ted Talk when Johann Hari says earnestly, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” Wriggling his connected fingers, like he’s playing here’s the church and here’s the steeple, for emphasis.

And now? I don’t know about you, but I am being inundated with invitations to virtual meetings, live Facebook chats, virtual programs and articles from fancy newspapers and magazines telling me to find connection in isolation (the ultimate recovery oxymoron). The problem with these cheerful encouragements is that they require motivation. In other words, I get invitations for virtual Zumba classes too, but I am probably not going to be inspired to do the fandango in my living room any time soon. And because I am socially distancing, no one is going to press the issue.

This was taken before the order to distance …

I feel uniquely qualified to live in isolation for a period of time. I actually enjoy being alone. I have lived on an island. I lived on a mountaintop.  I have Zoom, text-chains with my children, Google Hang-Outs, and my festering thoughts to keep me warm. But as the time goes on and the stats begin to gather – alcohol and gun sales are up – I worry about those who are new to recovery. Or those who are at home alone thinking, Who would know?

More than ever, be a friend. Be a tough love advocate …

I work for an addiction treatment center, so I know there is help available for those with substance use disorders. Smart people are working to make sure the same addiction treatment can be had in virtual programs as was offered in person. Virtual 12-Step meetings are available online – not the same huggy sort of affair you might be used to, but it will suffice.

What is needed is the good old fashioned phone call. The tough love. The motivation. 

Reach out to someone in need and make sure they take advantage of all the options available to them. Let them know you are keeping track of them. The other day I told my daughter Lauren, that at times like this people in recovery ask themselves (not me of course), “Who would know?” She said, “Mom. I would know.” Sometimes that is all it takes …

I just re-read Love in the Time of Cholera, which has less to do with cholera and more to do with love. Addiction recovery in the time of COVID-19 is about disease, but it is also about love. As we redefine what connection means during this time of fear and isolation, let us not forget about love. Hoist the flag and hunker down. Pick up the phone and call …

Stay safe. Stay connected. X, M


Social Distancing, Isolation and Addiction Recovery COVID-19

As a person in recovery, I have been taught that isolation is bad for me. And that connection and community is good. In fact, everyone in recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD) has had this concept drummed into their heads for good reason. Folks with active SUDs isolate so they can protect their addiction. [read more …]

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