Coping with COVID-19 and Alcohol Abuse
Covid-19 has brought on many new stressors, some of which most people have not experienced before – boredom, isolation and fear of health in addition to more commonly experienced stressors such as anxiety, depression, job loss and financial uncertainty. Many people turned to abusing alcohol or drugs in order to address some of these stressors. Government policies have not helped – classifying liquor stores as essential businesses and arming citizens with free cash to indulge in their weaknesses, whatever that may be!
Alcohol abuse during the pandemic sky rocketed as people used alcohol to cope with stressors and while away their time. Also, the confluence of stressors impacted people in recovery and resulted in relapse.
A big factor in the sharp increase in alcohol consumption is isolation, which severely restricted access to health care and AA/NA meetings. Even if an individual who started abusing alcohol heavily or relapsed on alcohol wanted to access treatment, it is not easy to do so due to Covid-related restrictions. There are many alcohol rehabs in NJ who were accepting patients through the pandemic to address alcohol use disorder, but people were under the impression that they were not accepting patients. Whether you lived in Manalapan or Colts Neck, Sayreville or Perth Amboy, Westfield or Mendham, Marlboro or East Brunswick, you had access to addiction treatment in New Jersey.
With being locked up at home deemed safe, the motivation to venture out was minimized. No doctor, no gym, no restaurants, no hanging out with friends, and, of course, no workplace!. The isolation was complete and boredom imminent, persistent and chronic!
Alcohol rehab facilities in NJ could have been availed of even during the pandemic. Also, technology played a big part in bringing treatment to the patient, no matter where in New Jersey they were located. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and other similar technologies have brought interactive care to patients’ homes.
Mental health issues + Addiction:
Depression and anxiety were big reasons behind the increase in alcohol consumption and relapse. People tried to self-medicate themselves for mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety through alcohol or drugs. However, they do not think their abuse of alcohol or drugs through! Persistent alcohol abuse can lead to addiction when one’s brain gets used to stimulation from alcohol to release the pleasure neurotransmitter, dopamine. The brain stops releasing dopamine in response to regular, milder stimulants such as hobbies, food or sex, and waits for stimulation from alcohol or drugs before releasing dopamine. This leads to addiction because the body becomes dependent on stimulation from drugs and alcohol in order to feel normal.
While alcohol abuse may provide temporary relief from mental health issues, it is not treatment. Accessing and utilizing the services of an appropriate mental health care giver is crucial to addressing the issues.
To the contrary heavy consumption of alcohol will only amplify your miseries in the long run as you will be stuck in an infinite loop of mental health issues and substance abuse. Avoiding your issues will only magnify the problems over a period of time. Therefore, it is imperative that individuals seek assistance from alcohol rehab facilities in NJ in order to get the help they need coming off of alcohol.
Ideas to Stop Alcohol Abuse During the Continuing Pandemic due to the Delta variant:
Quitting alcohol is not easy, but it is not impossible either. It is always easier to do it with supportive therapy in a therapeutic setting, as you will benefit from the help of addiction treatment professionals. Luckily, there are many alcohol treatment facilities in New Jersey in Summit, Berkeley Heights, Rumson, Red Bank, Middletown, Union, Holmdel, Tinton Falls, Edison, Clinton, Whitehouse Station, Somerset and Highbridge.
Restrictions imposed by COVID make it difficult to manage your environment, a primary relapse prevention technique for those in recovery, to get away from certain triggers.
So, here are other strategies to stay sober:
Stay Active: Being bored will feed into the negativity of the situation. Remember the things you always wished you had the time to do – color code your clothes, get your financial documents in order, etc. – get these done. It will help to keep you distracted, and reduce stress in the future.
Get Moving: Exercising is a good way to kill time, reduce stress and stay healthy. Exercise, yoga, and meditation regimens are available online. Pick one that is suitable to your living situation and practice daily.
Stock Medications: Line up your doctor appointments in advance, online or in person, as they are more restricted, and pharmacies are not fully stocked – you don’t want to run out of buprenorphine or naltrexone that help you stay sober.
Leverage Support System: AA and NA groups are accessible through Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or other online platforms. Use them and also talk to your sponsor by phone regularly and process your triggers and feelings. This will reduce stress and provide you with tools to cope with people and situations around you.
Utilize Telehealth: Access your therapist or other health care providers through telehealth platforms, as health insurance providers have eased reimbursement restrictions during the crisis. Call your provider for details.
Stop Smoking: As per some recent research, smokers who contract COVID19 are 2.4 times more likely to face severe outcomes – ICU admission, need for mechanical ventilation or death. It may be time to think seriously about quitting smoking. FDA approved smoking cessation products, such as Nicorette are safe and effective and you may want to consider them.