The coronavirus continues to cause tremendous stress around the globe. With worries about getting sick, the health of loved ones, job security and social distancing, many people are struggling at this time. In particular, increased isolation and disrupted routines are especially difficult for individuals in recovery. Isolation can lead to conditions like anxiety and depression, which are often co-occurring disorders with addiction. Maintaining contact with your loved one is a crucial part of supporting them on their recovery journey. A simple text or call can have a large impact, or get creative while social distancing. Do an activity you both enjoy virtually or have a safe hangout outdoors, distanced and wearing masks.

Here are some tips for supporting loved ones in recovery during COVID-19:

Be understanding. Your loved one may be having trouble adjusting to their new normal during COVID-19. In recovery, especially early on, having a routine is helpful. The pandemic has most likely affected your loved one’s routine in some way, so help them to create a new one and offer to be a part of it. Schedule time for activities you can do together safely, so there is something positive and consistent to look forward to. Maybe you and your loved one can have a virtual lunch date a couple of times a week or make a routine activity like a book club or movie night. Encourage them to incorporate some of their favorite stress relieving activities into their new routine as a form of self-care. This will help limit the time your loved one has to consider activities that may hinder the progress of their recovery.

Encourage your loved one to continue treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the treatment of many individuals in recovery. Depending on their treatment (see types of addiction treatment in Indianapolis for more)Your loved one may be unable or uncomfortable meeting with recovery coaches or other critical members of their support group. However, many treatment providers like CleanSlate are offering telehealth options to help individuals maintain recovery during the pandemic (see Outpatient Drug Rehab in Richmond). Encourage your loved one to explore these options to keep their treatment consistent.

Look out for signs of struggling. If you have been living with your loved one during the pandemic, you may be more aware of the day to day challenges they are experiencing in recovery during this time. Try to pay attention to signs that they may be struggling with negative coping mechanisms. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Take note of what is consistently causing stress. Is it watching the news? Social media? By knowing what triggers your loved one’s stress, you can make suggestions to help ease it.
  • Your loved one’s mood could indicate if they are struggling to maintain recovery. Addiction complications are often directly linked to depression and anxiety, so make sure to watch out for these symptoms in your loved one.
  • Lastly, if you see your loved one is really struggling with their recovery journey or with their mental health, seek help. CleanSlate is available to provide support and in the event of a serious crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Your loved one is braving recovery under unique and extremely trying circumstances, so offering encouragement without judgement is the best way to offer support. Addiction thrives in isolation, so being available to listen and trying to stay connected are necessary to lessen feelings of loneliness during COVID-19.

James Meacham M.D.