Everyone’s saying it and it’s entirely true: It’s been a hard year. We’ve all been feeling the effects of COVID-19, from lost loved ones to jobs furloughed and terminated. To manage all this uncertainty and stress, many adults have turned to drink and drugs. It’s understandable; addiction is formed as a way to cope with stress or trauma and the bombardment of stressors felt this year have led many to need a way to manage.
What you shouldn’t feel at this point is guilt. It does nothing, it poisons the mind and it may be one of the things keeping you down and locked into a destructive pattern of substance misuse.
Reframing Your Addictive Behaviour
It’s important to start with compassion for yourself. When we think about drinking and doing drugs when we know we shouldn’t, we need to be ready to forgive ourselves for our problem. Does this mean we have to accept our behaviour and never change it? No. Far from it; it’s in fact the opposite.
By being kinder to ourselves, we open the door for acceptance of our situation and a more healthy starting point for kicking habits and getting clean once more. We acknowledge the issue and the need to get help for addiction. Healing can’t happen from a place of self-hate. Will it happen overnight? Of course not; you’ll have bad days and sometimes it’s hard to love yourself. Despite that, it’s vital you make an effort to do so.
Think About What it Did for You
Next, we need to shift our thoughts to what the addictive behaviour or substance did for us. When you were drinking, how did you feel? Most people would say it made them happier. That it helped them forget.
This can lead you to consider the roots of your issues that compel you to self-destruct. If you drink and do drugs to forget, what are you forgetting? An example of this is isolation – something we can all relate to during COVID-19. We’re all social animals and the love, presence and support of our peers and friends keeps us motivated and sustains our wellbeing. Without that, many adults turn to drink and drugs to cope.
When you consider your problematic substance misuse in this way, you may find you uncover issues you’ve been reluctant to face – but that will be transformative should you meet them head on.
Practical Steps to Take
We appreciate that what we’ve discussed is a worthy path that nevertheless won’t start and end overnight. Let’s talk action you can take today.
It’s often the case with friends and family that nobody takes the first step in arranging time spent together. If you’re feeling the loneliness of isolation during this pandemic, think about those close to you and friends you’re fortunate to have. Can you start calling them or arranging online hangouts? The more contact you all have, the better you’ll all feel.
You can also take an enormous load off your chest by simply talking to someone experienced in treating addiction – even if you don’t take it any further than that. Being honest in this way can help you reframe and understand your situation better. Even if you don’t plan to take it further – or feel you don’t have an extreme problem yet – try talking to a professional from a provider of in-person and drug and alcohol addiction treatment about your struggles. You’ll find it comforting and liberating.
We wish you the best!
Simply enduring the storm of COVID-19 is commendable and we congratulate you for having done so thus far. It’s OK not to be perfect during this challenging period in history and we hope that by being honest and accepting of yourself you can open the door to healing and freedom from problematic substance misuse.
*Photos by JESSICA TICOZZELLI