The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone, but people who are in the early stages of addiction recovery are particularly vulnerable during this difficult time. At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center, we’ve compiled this list of tips to help you support your loved one as we all continue to navigate this evolving public health crisis.
Acknowledge the Difficulty of the Situation
One of the most important things you can do for a loved one in need is to simply listen to how they’re feeling. Your loved one in recovery might be worried about the loss of in-person support group meetings, the difficulty of managing cravings while maintaining social distancing, losing their job, or catching COVID-19 and experiencing serious complications. Listening without judgment shows your unconditional support.
Strive to show compassion and empathy towards your loved one in recovery. Statements like “it’s not that bad” or “you need to stay positive” trivialize their experiences. It’s better to say, “I’m sorry you are struggling, but I want you to know that I love you and I’m here for you.”
Social distancing has made it challenging to keep in touch with friends and family, but modern technology can help you stay in touch safely. Call, text, Zoom, or FaceTime regularly. Encourage others to do the same, so your loved one’s feelings of boredom and isolation are minimized.
If you’re finding it hard to make small talk, plan a virtual game night, movie night, or book club, so you have an activity to enjoy together. Refer to Parade’s 40 Ways to Stay Social During the Coronavirus Quarantine for more creative ways to keep in touch.
Encourage a Wellness-Focused Lifestyle
During residential treatment, your loved one learned about the importance of proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, and stress-relieving hobbies in promoting lasting sobriety. However, the same habits that help stabilize your loved one’s mood and make it easier for them to cope with cravings will also boost their immune system. A strong immune system helps the body fight off infections of all types, including COVID-19.
Encourage your loved one to create a home environment that makes it easier to stay healthy. Stocking nutritious snacks, opening the windows when the weather permits for sunlight and fresh air, clearing a space for at-home workouts, and creating a routine that promotes good sleep hygiene sets the stage for continued wellness. You can also share recipes, workout routines, and other tips you’ve found helpful in your own efforts to stay healthy.
Locate Relevant Community Resources
If your loved one is dealing with specific coronavirus-related challenges, such as needing to get tested for COVID-19 or apply for unemployment benefits after a layoff, connecting them to the appropriate community resources is an excellent way to show your support. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has assembled a Resources & Assistance page for residents that offers help with concerns such as maintaining health insurance, paying utility bills, finding childcare, and determining the status of your stimulus payment.
Encourage Continued Compliance with Their Recovery Program
When COVID-19 dominates the news, it can be easy for your loved one to lose focus on their recovery efforts. Encourage them to continue to follow all treatment recommendations. This includes:
- Making sure they are able to maintain a steady supply of all prescribed medications. Many insurance companies are easing restrictions on refill requests during the pandemic to make it easier for people to build up an emergency supply of necessary medications.
- Encouraging participation in virtual 12-Step or support group meetings while in-person meetings are unavailable.
- Helping them connect to appropriate telehealth resources for ongoing counseling and mental support. Most offices that are not seeing clients for in-person appointments have telehealth options that will be covered by existing health insurance.
If your loved one relapses, it’s important to get help right away. Relapse is unfortunately a common experience in the early stages of recovery, especially during times of stress and uncertainty. However, as an essential business, our Pennsylvania drug and alcohol addiction treatment center remains open throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We have implemented extensive CDC-recommended safety precautions and remain committed to helping men and women with substance use disorders get the evidence-based care they need to continue on their recovery journeys.