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  • Writer's pictureRyan Witkowski

Addiction Recovery During the COVID-19 Pandemic: 7 Signs You May Be Struggling

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

It is debatable what the exact definition of addiction is. A medical doctor will describe it one way, a therapist another and someone in recovery something completely different. While we do not all agree on the exact nature of addiction, we might all agree on the opposite of addiction.

The opposite of addiction is connection.

No matter how addiction is described, the nature of recovery revolves around connection. Connection with our support system, connection with our peers, connection within our community and most importantly, connection with ourselves. In recovery our lives become a physical, emotional and sometimes spiritual routine that helps create the fabric and substance of our days. Maybe we go to a 12-step meeting or have coffee with friends or family. For some of us exercise or spiritual gatherings help us feel grounded and connected. The stronger these patterns become, typically, the better our recovery.

Welcome COVID-19.

Stop everything you are doing.

Cancel those meetings.

Cancel that date with your friend, and for some of us, stop going to work.

For so many of us, our lives have changed as we all together endure this once in a lifetime pandemic.Nobody has been left unaffected. To varying degrees our lives have all changed and brought with it new stressors.

Unfortunately, the cure for our pandemic is exactly the one thing that will have the most painful impact on so many of us. Isolation and Social Distancing. If the opposite of addiction is connection and we are all being asked to social distance where does that leave those of us in recovery or with an active addiction? For many, this will be a challenging time.

7 Signs you may be struggling in your recovery:

1) You just don’t feel right.

This is a highly individual and unique symptom for everyone. The most common “not feeling right” symptoms are fatigue, brain fog, inattention, irritability, increased worry, anger and a general lack of interest in things that usually excite you.

2) Isolation.

Do you find yourself not answering phone calls? How about avoiding interactions with your family or those you live with? This is different than seclusion, which can be a very important healthy coping skill during the pandemic.

3) Overeating or Undereating.

Food can often help us find comfort in uncomfortable scenarios, including worldwide pandemics. Pay attention to your eating habits and try to keep them consistent with pre-pandemic diet.

4) Justifying new behaviors

These are behaviors that you previously shunned either as part of recovery or as your general value system. Some examples might be unnecessary shopping, excessive use of pornography, gambling, over-working, spending excessive time on your phone or on the internet, increased coffee.

5) Not keeping up with basic daily routines

Examples: personal hygiene, exercise, eating, general household duties, taking care of pets or kids.

6) Becoming closed off

If you live in close quarters with family friends or a significant other and find yourself feeling resentful, but not able to constructively express your frustrations, no matter how trivial they may seem

7) Justifying old behaviors

Having a thought similar to, “ I can do this just once…it won’t happen again…I need a break”, as it relates to using mind altering substances or any behaviors that previously have caused harm in your life.

As a side note, if you are reading this and maybe aren’t sure if you have a substance or behavioral addiction ask yourself if this following phrase sounds familiar:

"Addiction is manifested in any behavior that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in but suffers negative consequences as a result of, and yet has difficulty giving up"

-Gabor Mate

The first step in any growth or recovery process is very simply recognizing what the problem is. This is by no means a conclusive list. If you identify with anything in the list above congrats you are on the right path to redirecting yourself. There is no shame in accepting you might be facing some challenges. This is a challenging time for all of us. We are all in this together.

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