If I’m being honest and I’m looking at what it means to be getting sober or being in an early recovery in the middle of COVID, I have no idea. I know that there are a lot more challenges than there used to be.
Isolation vs. Human Connection
There’s something about community and human connection that, in my mind, is fundamental and instrumental in the transformational process of going from somebody who’s in an addicted state to a person in a state of recovery.
That almost never happens in isolation.
I can’t even imagine for myself, and I’m a person in recovery, what that would have been like to try to do that in quarantine. I’m sure it could happen…but I just couldn’t imagine it because my experience of recovery is that it’s something that we do with other people.
This was so challenging, and the other piece that’s challenging is a lot of people have crashed and burned their lives. They’re trying to rebuild their lives and get sober at the same time. That process is one of the same.
Rebuilding During Uncertainty
But to rebuild your life in the midst of so much uncertainty and with very little opportunity– economically speaking–it’s a challenge. There are just less jobs that you can do. That’s terrifying.
I feel like I’m trying to rebuild my life but where am I going to work? What am I going to do? And so I think there are just all these mounting challenges for people that are getting sober right now and the largest support system for people getting clean outside of treatment is Alcoholics Anonymous.
The meetings, most of them aren’t in person anymore so they’re on Zoom. You got 30 people, like the Brady Bunch, on the screen.
Sure there’s some benefits. And there’s problems. It’s easier to check out, disconnect from your program, and isolate.
People have too much time. There’s just a lot going on. That makes recovery very challenging and it makes the treatment very challenging.
I see it as part of my mission to try to take people from an addicted state to a sober state–to a sober state of integrity and productivity of working in the world. That last phase is very hard right now.
I don’t know exactly what a lot of people are going to do. It’s hard for me to have a lot of confidence and faith that I can give to another person to figure it out because I’m still like, “What exactly are they going to do?”
Like this person, a musician,…but he can’t do what he normally does. Or this person works in restaurants but there are no restaurants. Whatever it is. I find it incredibly difficult. I’ve been impressed with the people that are getting sober.
Distinguishing Personal Issues vs. COVID Challenges
One person I was working with relapsed. He went through our program, he actually worked. He works as a nurse. As he’s working on the front lines, he relapsed. So he came back to our program.
I believe that he couldn’t get support from our program while he was being a nurse except via Telehealth because he was too exposed to COVID-19. We couldn’t have him in our treatment program. It was too high-risk because he was frontline–which was horrible but you have to make these tough decisions.
When he came back in, I said, “Listen I feel so bad that you couldn’t be part of this community and get the support that you needed to stay clean when you transitioned. You worked really hard at getting clean while you were here.”
And he said, “To be honest, it was that I really just fell off my program.”
I thought, “Wow, really impressive for that person to be able to distinguish what was his, and what was COVID and the scenario.”
It’s tough stuff. And honestly, people can help each other get through this.
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