Staying Sober During Times of Crisis

Being newly sober can be scaryespecially when there is a quarantine and social distancing in place. The country is currently experiencing a pandemic. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are not taking place in person. Maybe it is more difficult to see your support system. Not only are you trying to learn to live life without the use of substances, but human contact is scarce. It is quite scary. Oftentimes when someone gets sober, they are not even sure what leisure activities they enjoy. Using substances can be the focus of life as opposed to hobbies or alternative activities. I’ve put together some ideas for staying sober throughout this crisis. 

  1. Some people find AA meetings helpful, some do not. I encourage AA meetings because of the camaraderie amongst people who can relate to what you are going through. Right now, there are online, Zoom AA meetings. If you look at the website www.aa.org you will be able to find out how to access these meetings. If you are nervous about attending a meeting for the first time this is a good introduction. You can mute your microphone on Zoom and even hide your face. It is a good opportunity to listen to how meetings operate with no pressure. Another positive factor regarding online AA meetings is that they are multiple times a day and you do not have to leave your house. 
  2. There are in-person AA meetings now! If you look on the AA.org website you can find in-person and zoom meetings and some meetings are hybrid! 
  3. There are other self-help meetings available through Zoom. SMART recovery is a popular choice for many people as it differs from Alcoholics Anonymous. 
  4. Now is as good a time as any to explore hobbies that you may enjoy but never tried. There may be some activities you can do at home that you used to like but using drugs or alcohol got in the way of pursuing these hobbies. 

-Reading, joining a book club online to find out a new popular book while meeting other people with similar interests. 

-Practice self-care. Go for a walk, take a hot bath or shower, relax with a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. 

-Call a loved one or even better, write a letter through snail mail. People love getting positive letters in the mail! 

-Spring cleaning! Dust, vacuum, change the sheets, bring out the spring clothes and put away the winter clothes. 

-If you have the supplies plant some seeds or pick some up if you have to go to the grocery store at some point. 

-Cook a delicious meal. The body can be affected as much as the mind when actively using substances. Plan some healthy meals and look up recipes online. Channel your inner chef.

-ART- you do not have to be an artist to benefit from the enjoyment of art. Putting color on paper is very therapeutic no matter if you draw something or just scribble on the paper. If that is too scary, coloring is also a soothing activity that is surprisingly enjoyable.

-Learning a new skill on Youtube such as sign language, a craft or anything of interest.

-Writing in a journal or starting a blog

-It is spring and the weather is getting nicer outside! go for a walk, take a hike or just spend some time outdoors. Focus on nature and the small things; try to find beauty in anything you see. 

– Write a gratitude list daily- Even in times of feeling badly there is usually something to be grateful for, no matter how small. Waking up, having clean water, connecting with a positive person, enjoying a TV show are things that we can all take for granted. Focusing on these small things can put things we are going through in perspective. 

  1. If you feel like using drugs or alcohol, wait an hour. See if you feel like using drugs or alcohol. If you do wait another hour. A craving does not last forever! Remember that it takes about 90 days to change a habit but implementing other activities can be a helpful distraction. If you can’t manage one day at a time, one hour at a time can seem more obtainable. 
  2. Call a supportive friend or loved one, let them know your struggles or ask how they are! Helping others can in turn help ourselves and have many positive benefits. 

Remember: Getting and staying sober is hard for anyone at any time. This time is about taking care of yourself and building new habits for long term success. Be gentle with yourself and know that each day you are making positive changes for a better future!

Kristin Harden, MSW, LCSW, LCAS

Mental Health Therapist

Learn More