Resources For Staying Sober In Isolation
Isolation is a key component of addiction. It fuels the fire and it gives you time to convince yourself that you have the best idea of all, which is often to act out in order to escape whatever is happening in the moment. And there’s a lot happening in these moments.
When faced with something frightening and unknown, we often turn to behaviors that bring us comfort. We eat foods that make us happy. We play games we enjoyed as a child. We cozy up under blankets and watch more TV than normal. We take naps.
For those of us who struggle with addiction, we use.
I mentioned last Friday that someone I had known since I entered recovery almost 10 years ago overdosed after losing her job. She had almost seven months clean. I’ve spoken to friends with years in recovery who are suddenly questioning how they will hold onto their sobriety when things like in-person 12-step meetings are no longer allowed and the anxiety over the unknown is starting to mount.
If you have any experience attending in-person meetings, you understand their importance. If you don’t, let me try and explain. Meetings are more than just a collection of lost souls sitting in a circle commiserating about their lives. They’re a place of acceptance. They’re a place where you realize that despite outwards differences, there is an existence that each of you share. There are service positions that help hold you accountable by requiring that you show up to make coffee, collect money, or run the meeting. They’re a lifeline of connection which, as you may recognize, directly contrasts a life of isolation.
I am grateful that I am quarantined at home with my family, although I know that sometimes family can also be a destructive force. I know that holding onto sobriety while being isolated by yourself can be extremely trying and difficult, even with significant recovery time under your belt. To someone in the early stages of recovery, this roadblock can seem insurmountable.
A common saying in 12-step meetings is “just for today.” When people ask incredulously how they are supposed to stay clean and sober for the rest of their lives, they are met with “just for today.” It means that our only job is to stay clean today. If even today is too long to consider, then think about just for this hour. Just for five minutes.
I think that’s what we all need to do during this time. It’s overwhelming to ask how long will we have to stay inside when there’s no clear answer. Can you stay inside just for today? Just for this hour? Just for five minutes?
Dealing with the unknown is hard enough for most people. For those trying to maintain their sobriety, it can be even harder. I’ve compiled some resources for those of us who may be having trouble staying sober in isolation. Please use these. Share them. Give me any additional ones in the comments. We’ve got this.
Online Meeting Links
- AA Online Meeting Information
- NA Online Meeting Information
- OA (Overeaters Anonymous) Online Meeting Information
- SMART Recovery Online Meeting Information
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Virtual Recovery Resources (many more online options in this document)
Rather than list a ton, I’m linking a few posts that curate some of the best for you.
- 5 Great Podcasts About Addiction and Recovery
- Top Recovery Podcasts of 2019
- 21 Women-Led Recovery Podcasts to Listen to When You Need Hope
- SAMHSA National Hotline: 800-662-HELP (4357) (more info here)
- NAMI Helpline: 800-950-NAMI (6264) M-F 10 am – 6 pm EST (more info here)
- NAMI Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- if you are unable to talk safely, log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522
If you are unable to get to a meeting to buy literature, many 12-step groups provide everything online and free of charge. Many formats are also available from audio to PDF.
- AA Literature
- NA Literature
- NA Pamphlet “Staying Clean in Isolation” – originally for those who were not near meetings, but definitely applicable now.
- SAMHSA Publications and Digital Products
- Hazelden Recovery Tools
- Pick up the phone. Call or FaceTime someone supportive.
- Pause to play the tape through. Many times when the obsession hits, addicts stop at the thought of relief from substances and never continue playing out what happens after. Play the tape all the way through to remind yourself what actually happens after you drink/do drugs/compulsively eat/etc.
- Check out this post with 47 ways to help a bad mental health day.
- Most pertinent addiction/recovery blog posts
I got clean in Narcotics Anonymous, so I am most familiar with 12-step programs. I’ve tried to include a variety of approaches in this post, because I know different methods work for different people. That being said, if you participate in or know of any other programs that you think would be helpful to include, please either leave a comment or email me at email@example.com and I can update this list.