So week two of Coronavirus Lock Down……weird. Not being able to do what we normally do puts pressure on everyone, young and old. I’m lucky because I’ve got a lovely garden and I live with my husband so I don’t feel so alone. My mum, however, is 87, lives alone and has limited mobility so I’m very worried about her. But in all this madness, what about our addicts? Talking to others who know or love an addict, they’re concerned about a lot of things.
Thinking first about those in recovery. They often rely heavily on meetings like AA and NA to keep them on track and off the drink or drugs. Those getting clean could still have an addictive nature so they might use other repetitive activities as a substitute; things like regular swimming sessions or gym work. Unfortunately, all these things have stopped. In other words, the structures they’ve put in place to safeguard themselves against relapse are less available which means danger. Luckily a lot of organisations, including Families Out Loud, are offering on-line support via FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp, as well as by phone or email. We should encourage recovering addicts to access as much of this help as possible. Exercise is also highly recommended by Public Health England so running, walking and keeping fit at home are all possibilities. Keeping the mind busy is equally important so they could download new apps, read anything that’s available, get into a TV box set, do a crossword, meditate……the list is endless.
How about those that are still using or drinking. Drug addicts might find supplies are drying up and not getting that fix will have all sorts of physical and mental repercussions. Alcoholics can still get hold of booze so, for them, business as usual in that sense. But the biggest impact could well be the total crackdown on social interaction. Humans like being with other humans, especially those that share our values, interests and experiences. Addicts are no different to the rest of us, so being told that you can’t mix with your normal crowd, or finding that nobody is congregating, is catastrophic. Many of them won’t be able to face social isolation, so will continue to mix in their circles and run the risk of getting or giving the virus. On a similar note I know there is a lot of concern about the homeless who have been moved into hotel rooms to self-isolate. Organisations that regularly deliver food, clothes and toiletries to Wiltshire’s homeless population are worried about the mental health impact of a policy designed to protect but which may, in fact, do harm. I’m not sure what can be done about any of this.
On a personal note, I know that my own drug-using son Ryan is definitely not self-isolating. He is currently staying at a friend’s house (which I think is a drug den) and he’s doing his normal thing. I’m obviously extra worried about him at this time so when he messaged me yesterday to say he had no money and nothing to eat, I decided to deliver him a bag of groceries and a hot meal. When I got to our meeting point he was wired, filthy and angry as hell about the whole lock down situation. Knowing that I can’t change a single thing for Ryan, I gave him the food, told him I love him and left. I can’t get sucked into his life again but at this difficult time, I can’t let him go hungry either.
We find ourselves in strange and challenging times. Loving an addict is an added complication that we really don’t need but that we have to live with. At this moment, it’s important to think about self-care, getting a new routine and remaining positive. Doing things for our addict is OK but we must stay safe and think about our own wellbeing too. Let me know how you’re coping with it all.
As promised in my last blog I’ll talk about the magic of the support group very soon. Take care.