As people prepare to hunker down inside, with little to no human contact for weeks, I’m starting to see those social media posts that make a joke of it all. I’ll see photos of six cases of wine with the caption “Quarantine supplies.” I’ll see a blender, margarita mix, and several bottles of tequila with the caption “Ready for the apocalypse.” It’s hard for people to know what to do with themselves—how to comfort themselves—in the absence of social interactions. We as humans are social beings. We need that human interaction to feel stable and sane. Without it, many are turning to booze. If those who do not have a substance addiction are struggling to stay away from the stuff right now, can you imagine how tough it is for those who do struggle with addiction?
Alcoholics rely on community to recover. There is power in the AA meeting and the 12-step program. Some individuals in recovery try to attend several meetings a week or even, in the beginning stages of recovery, one a day. Research has even found that, within newly sober groups, those with better rates of abstinence tend to exhibit more self-efficacy. In other words, they believe that they have the power to do what is necessary, without someone pushing them.
Naturally, with that study in mind, it’s easy to see how community—how that outside encouragement—is so important to those new to recovery. Many of them don’t yet exhibit self-efficacy and need the support of friends. For some, it will remain important throughout recovery. But this period of isolation is requiring individuals to have the willpower to abstain, without any outside help.
Another study found that helping other alcoholics is one of the biggest factors that help alcoholics themselves remain sober. So removing those regular, in-person meetings where those in recovery can offer advice and comfort to others could be a major hindrance to their own recovery.
It can be a frightening time for those in recovery, so it’s important to be prepared with ways to remain sober during isolation.
Call the hotline
Though the centers are primarily closing, the hotlines are still open. There are volunteers available to talk to you over the phone if you are having a difficult time. The beauty of the hotline is that, unlike with some friends or family, you don’t need to explain why you’re calling and there is no pressure to pretend you’re doing better than you are. The volunteers on these lines are prepared for whatever you’re dealing with, and know why you’re calling.