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Safeguarding My Recovery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

People world-wide have been forced to adapt to a new reality. For people in recovery new challenges to stay connected presented themselves like never before. When the quarantine became a reality for me I knew I would have to be vigilant and stay connected to guard my precious recovery.

Addiction is a disease that thrives in isolation. I know that I am an extrovert, an empath and a codependent. My disease loved this “new normal” and thoughts of depression, isolation, boredom and yes even thoughts to use again would enter this complex brain of mine.

As a result of the stay at home orders my dental office like all others could see only emergency situations. I am a hygienist so no elective procedures meant that I would now be out of work temporarily. I had plenty of time on my hands. In the past during active addiction I would use idle time to find ways and means to use. Working a program has helped me lose the desire to use. The key for me is to be constantly reminded of the 10th step that helped me take daily inventories of myself and remember to practice vigilance. When self-harming thoughts entered my brain I was able to play the tape out and know that if I used any mind or mood altering substance that would be a tape of utter destruction.

Prior to COVID-19 I was attending a 12 step meeting where we would hug, talk in close group and often eat out after meetings. This all changed when the stay at home order was put in place. My home group like most others only had meetings via Zoom where although I could see others it felt much less personal to me. I still found experience, strength and hope but it felt less profound. After careful analysis I realized that I needed to find more gratitude for our world of technology. What if we did not have access to zoom or skype meetings? How hard would it be to stay sober then? I had to go back to my step work and remember the H.O.W. of my program which stands for honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. I started to join in more on meetings and also to create more meetings for my sponsees and hygienists. I peer support to be able to stay connected. If I could find ways to use in the past, I could find ways to stay more connected now. As addicts we find ways to get what we want.

I took time for myself to do things I previously did not have time to accomplish. I made a vow to stay busy so the idleness and boredom would not have a chance to feed negative thoughts in my brain. I hiked, worked on restoring furniture and read my big book and did step work to stay sober. I connected with my daughter more by “playing teacher” due to school closures. We laughed and we cried – mostly over 6th grade math! I enjoyed letting her “be a tween” and learn multi-tasking to get her work done. I enjoyed watching her balance school-life duties. I was present for her….and sober.

I am grateful today having over 5 years of sobriety and clean time to have some “tools in my toolbelt” to nail down some solutions to avoid relapse. During these times of stress and uncertainty one thing is for certain – my recovery must come first….pandemic or not.

A grateful recovering hygienist