Following warning comes from The World Health Organisation: People may be increasingly turning to alcohol as an unhelpful coping strategy during the Coronavirus lockdown. Rehabs and the recovery community need to be aware of the dangers of relapse during this time, and that stress levels are increasing across the globe amid concerns regarding the mental health of people during this pandemic.
Excessive alcohol and drug usage are known to cause damage to both physical and mental well-being; especially if consumed regularly or in large amounts. Furthermore, it can lead to a lower immune response, particularly when combined with anxiety as the world starts to re-open pubs and restaurants after lockdown.
The unexpected usually creates anxiety and heightens stress levels. As we all know: This is certainly true for the coronavirus and the impact it is having on the recovery community.
The whole world stress levels have increased due to the fear of the disease, but also consequences such as financial instability. We are being encouraged to self-isolate and distance ourselves socially – none of this is good news for people in early recovery, long-term recovery, or the general Public. It has long been recognised that the cure for addiction is human connection and this is partly why the 12-Step movement has been so successful. Coronavirus is a major threat to people in recovery and to the general public health (as addiction is a killer illness too).
People in recovery need to take special care during those critical times: don’t let the steps that are being taken to defeat coronavirus, endanger your recovery and cause relapse!
FIGHTING RELAPSE IN TIMES OF CORONA
Addiction could also be classed as a pandemic as it has killed millions over the last 2000 years. As normal group meetings or rehab centres are not available at the moment, people had to find new approaches in fighting their addiction. Some people in recovery even have had to develop completely new skills. They had to learn about social media such as Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom, and have been forced out of their comfort zones, which is not a bad thing. People are communicating around the world and hopefully creating a global recovery network.
Please try to consume less media; not get drawn into depression, catastrophizing or negative thinking.
Our purpose-built wellness centre is the only rehab facility located right on a beautiful white sand beach in Bali, away from the hustle and bustle of popular tourist
As a species we are hardwired to look for negatives; it is part of our survival mechanism. So, it is important to limit media exposure to a constant stream of ‘Breaking Bad’ news which can become an addictive process of its own; try not to become a news junkie.
Experiencing a relapse can be a part of the recovery process. Although we would never promote it at Power of Now Oasis, and everything we do from the moment we start working with clients is a form of relapse prevention. Clients do relapse, but with the right support this can be an opportunity to create long-lasting change. That’s what we are working on at Pono.
WARNING SIGNS OF RELAPSE
- Talking about missing the use of alcohol or drugs. During treatment we challenge this type of behaviour because it creates positive expectancy. By looking at the costs and consequences of using, the denial that we only hurt ourselves can be broken.
- Stopping behaviours that they enjoy. This can be the start of self-defeating behaviours and a return to addiction. Recovery has to be interesting and enjoyable; fear can stop someone using for a period of time, but this won’t last.
- No longer wanting to attend after-care or 12-Step meetings. We learn everything by repetition; walking, talking and recovery. It takes time to rewire the neural pathways. And people in recovery need the utmost support in early recovery (1st year).
- Appearing to be depressed or anxious. If clients are psychologically living in the past, they may become depressed. If clients are psychologically living in the future, they may become anxious. During treatment we encourage our clients to live in The Power of Now.
- There are many more signs of a potential relapse. For example: Beginning to socialise with old friends and repeating old dysfunctional behaviour patterns. Becoming defensive and un-communicative. Sulking and blaming others.
When a person has relapsed, they will typically begin to show some general symptoms of addiction. You may find that they:
- Miss important events or social occasions without a valid reason.
- May start to neglect their personal appearance, grooming and generally not looking after themselves.
- Become defensive about using alcohol and drugs; stepping back into denial.
- Experience irregular sleep patterns; becoming out of sync with the rest of the world.
- Become secretive and lie about what they have been doing.
How to help someone who has relapsed
If you have concerns that somebody is in the process of relapse, it is crucial that you take steps to challenge and support them.
Speak to them about your concerns.
Try to pick a setting that makes them feel comfortable (right time & a place that is private). They may be defensive and ashamed, so try not to be accusatory, but instead assertive. It is important to try and offer a sympathetic tone. Letting the person know that you are there to support and to gain a better understanding of their relapse and what they can learn from this, so that they do not repeat this pattern of behaviour again.
Avoid enabling behaviour
You cannot continue to collude with their destructive habits. Examples being: behaviours like calling in sick on their behalf, when they cannot attend work; making excuses for their behaviour. Practising tough love can be difficult but ultimately you cannot recover for them. This is something they need to take responsibility for, and they won’t do this when in an addictive process, unless they experience there are negative consequences.
Here at The Power of Now Oasis we eagerly await your arrival to start your recovery journey with us. In the meantime, the 12-Step recovery community has adapted its free support by offering many online meetings 24/7. There will be a meeting starting somewhere in the world right now. You can find online meetings by searching ‘where to find’ on the Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous websites. There are also many addiction specialists and counsellors available online who can support you.
Here at PONO we offer:
- A free, no obligation, addiction assessment
- Group therapy, family therapy and one-to-one counselling
- A wide range of therapeutic techniques including CBT, mindfulness, meditation, and educational groups on addiction
- Access to 12-Step support groups
- Extended treatment and after-care
- we can put you in direct contact with any of our specialist councillors for online support, who can offer motivational interviewing until you are able to come to Bali. They generally charge by the hour or may offer package flat fees for regular therapy/consults and can structure isolation programs for you personally.
We are also able to provide advice and support for people re-entering treatment after relapse. We help to get them back on track and equip them with the tools they need to keep going from strength to strength and long-term recovery. So please give us a call to see how we can help you.
The Indonesian government will be opening Bali soon.