You aren’t alone if you’re trying to cope with alcohol addiction during the pandemic. It’s tempting to ask yourself what harm one or two drinks might do. After all, how would anyone know? Social distancing and stay-at-home orders might physically keep you from your in-person recovery community, but there are ways to stay connected and remain focused.
COVID-19’s Effects on Alcohol Use
Fear, worry, and stress can often lead people to search for something to provide relief. Millions turn to alcohol for a quick fix, having a drink or two to “take the edge off.” While drinking isn’t a healthy way to cope, some individuals can cut themselves off after a couple of drinks. However, not everyone can control their drinking.
Alcohol already has a firm grip on the population. Before the pandemic, more than 50% of people drank alcohol, and 23.9% binge drank at least once in the past month. 1 in 20 people has AUD, while 2.4 million have both an alcohol and a substance use disorder.
COVID-19 created massive waves of widespread panic that affected the entire world. People were encouraged to stay inside and isolate themselves to slow down the spread of the virus. Isolation has adverse effects on mental health, though, making it much more difficult to stay sober.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report in August. They gathered information on the effects of social distancing and stay-at-home orders on mental health and substance use. According to the CDC’s study conducted in June:
- 40% of adults in the United States struggled with mental health or substance use
- 31% noticed increased symptoms of anxiety or depression
- 26% experienced symptoms of trauma or stressor-related disorders
- 13% started drinking or using substances or increased their existing use
- 11% seriously considered suicide during the past 30 days
How You Can Cope with Alcohol Addiction During the Pandemic
Again, if you’re feeling uncomfortable, scared, or alone during the pandemic, you aren’t. Thousands of people feel the same way as you. Isolation exacerbates alcohol use and addiction problems. It’s not easy to spend most of your time alone, especially when you struggle with alcohol use.
There are plenty of things you can do to stay connected and keep yourself occupied. How can you cope with alcohol addiction during the pandemic? Try out some of the following ideas to keep yourself from feeling alone.
Connect with an Online Recovery Community
If you’re already in recovery, you know the importance of building and maintaining a community. If you had cultivated a support network before the pandemic, you’re already a step ahead. If you didn’t, you can plug into an online recovery community to connect with people on various social media platforms from Twitter to Instagram.
Attend Recovery Meetings Online
12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and other recovery groups like SMART Recovery moved their meetings online. There are thousands of virtual opportunities for connection and support. Another benefit is now you can attend meetings around the world instead of only in your local area.
Keep Yourself Active and Moving
If isolation is the number one threat to recovery, sitting still is a close second. Staying active is an integral part of keeping your mind from running too far away. Sitting still will only make the struggle more difficult. Go out for a walk around the block at least once a day or try out some home workout exercises that get you moving.
Discover a New Hobby
Plenty of people have found a sudden increase in free time. No more commuting, no more going out to eat, and no more meeting up with friends. What are you doing with all your free time? Did you have a list of things you’ve always wanted to try but “didn’t have the time”? Try out a few things on that list and see if you end up discovering a new hobby.
Stay Connected with Friends and Family
Your recovery community is an important aspect of coping with alcohol addiction during the pandemic. Staying connected with friends and family is important, too. Keep in touch with loved ones regularly, whether it’s a scheduled FaceTime or a random call to check-in. Take the time to sit down and write letters to your loved ones; a personal connection is beneficial to others, too.