Those who are working to obtain and maintain their sobriety is an endless journey. However, going through this journey in the middle of a pandemic takes a whole different type of strength. Balancing both these unprecedented times and a recovery process has been a combination in which is new to our audience; some of us aren’t even sure how we’ve been able to keep the equilibrium in order.
As we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are starting to pay much more attention to just how many people are battling addiction. As stated by the American Psychological Association (2021), the stress and uncertainty presented by COVID-19 have pushed people to seek more resources and services dedicated to mental health and stability. Additionally — and even more alarming — is the increasing number of substance abuse cases.
As presented by the American Psychological Association (2021):
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 2020, 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19. Overdoses have also spiked since the onset of the pandemic. A reporting system called ODMAP shows that the early months of the pandemic brought an 18% increase nationwide in overdoses compared with those same months in 2019. The trend has continued throughout 2020, according to the American Medical Association, which reported in December that more than 40 U.S. states have seen increases in opioid-related mortality along with ongoing concerns for those with substance use disorders.
With these added stress levels, people are finding it much harder to manage their sobriety. According to professor of behavioral science, pharmacology, pharmaceutical sciences, and psychiatry at the University of Kentucky (UK) and director of the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, Sharon Walsh, PhD, “in March and April, Kentucky methadone clinics saw an increase in patients ending treatment and a decrease in new patients starting treatment”. The pandemic has made that much more difficult for people to stay on track with their recovery.
This year, we’ve been able to connect with some amazing individuals, all who are working to maintain their sobriety throughout this pandemic. When asked what advice would they gives those who are working through and maintaining their sobriety — whether you are decades in or just beginning — here’s what our interviewees had to say:
Surround yourself with positive people. Stay away from anything that could be triggering and avoid keeping alcoholic beverages in your residence. When you choose to make a big change not everyone will understand. Friends will try and convince you to have “just one drink”, and they may get frustrated when you say no. Be prepared for a lot of amazing things to happen in your life. Also be ready for your relationships to change. You may come to find that some of them were based around drinking. I have a small amazing group of true friends. Some of them have seen me struggle and succeed during my journey and didn’t give up on me. I’ve lost other friendships because sadly we all grow out or apart from people we used to know. You don’t wish them any ill will. That is just part of growing as a person and when you choose to get sober.
Randi Newton, Soberocity Contributor
Such a great question! A solid and reliable group of support (healers, close friends / colleagues / relatives, spiritual influences, etc), a desire to maintain forward movement, passions, inspiration and many other things that are essential to one’s personal growth and evolution.
Get connected! The opposite of addiction is connection. Find like minded people exploring alcohol-free living along side you. Follow inspirational sober accounts on social media. Download sober podcasts and audible books. Begin filling your head with sobriety and drinking with never be the same.
Michelle Smith, Founder of Recovery is the New Black
From Shawn- Reach out to people asap! Get connected with other people that share the same common goals. Call, Facetime, Zoom, text, whatever you can do, do it now and don’t waste any more time. Isolation is something all addicts and alcoholics do not have the luxury of doing. Boredom and loneliness is a recipe for self destructive tendencies that are wired in most people pursuing sobriety, so reach out, connect, and don’t fall into the self victim trap that all addicts and alcoholics are really good at!
Ariel Bloomer and Shawn Jump, Founders of Icon for Hire
It’s hard for me to give advice to someone getting sober because again, everyone takes a different path, and what works for me, might not work for the next person. One thing I will say is that you have to really want to get clean. It won’t work if you’re doing it for someone else or any other reason than you want to do it.
Kyle Pfeiffer, aka Blacklite District