Effects of Isolation on Addiction and Recovery

Covid-19, Isolation and Sustained Recovery

It is plain to see that we are living in a time of uncertainty. In our “normal” day-to-day lives prior to the onset of the Covid-19 virus, there was hardly a moment in which we were not interacting with another human being. While this may have been something, we once took for granted, we are beginning to realize that much of our well-being is connected to our relationship with others. Humans, by nature, are social creatures. In chronic addiction and alcoholism, many of us formed relationships with our substance of choice that took precedence, and eventually replaced, our relationships with our peers. It is not surprising that many experts refer to addiction as a “disease of isolation”.

Although there is no concrete answer, we must be introspective regarding reasons that we isolate as addicts and alcoholics. With addiction and alcoholism, we find that we often have compromised our values to meet the needs of our disease. In active addiction, we engage in reckless behavior such as driving under the influence, find ourselves with increased mood swings and irritability, and have a decreased ability to connect to the ones we love. This compromise leads to shame, and shame brings about isolation.

When we enter recovery, we are taught to lean on our fellow men for guidance and support. In addiction we are isolated, but in recovery we grow in community spirit. It is a well-regarded notion that the opposite of addiction is, in fact, connection.

Howard J. Schaffer PhD, CAS and Debi LaPlante, PhD of Harvard Health recommend “[to] rely on your escape and avoidance skills by identifying alternative activities that respect social distancing, but conflict with addictive behavior. Such activities might include practicing mindfulness and relaxation, getting exercise, learning new skills, and communicating your goals and activities with loved ones and people who support you.” We find that addiction experts across our country are stressing that we stay involved we others in the recovery community. Being creative with maintaining old coping skills and developing new and creative ways to stay in touch with each other is vital in a time like this.

As a spirituality-based long-term drug and alcohol treatment center, we at The Riverbank House ask ourselves daily how we can combat the forced isolation that has been brought about by the restrictions of Covid-19. With local 12-step meetings transitioned to being hosted online, and our twice-weekly off campus community-building activities being significantly limited, we must be outside-the-box thinkers in regards to continuing to foster a community spirit among our on-campus recovery community. We have done this by staying true to our mind, body and spirit all-encompassing healing philosophy.

We take advantage of the fact that we are a New Hampshire Lakes Region based treatment facility and have increased our outdoor activities. Engaging in difficult hikes and other physical activities as a group creates a bonding experience for our recovery-community members as they overcome the challenge of reaching the peak of a mountain. We take rides down the river on one of our pontoon boats and kayaks. We offer extra meditation and yoga classes that cater to men in recovery to encourage continued spiritual growth. We facilitate community building and healthy-relationships as one of our many pathways to sustained recovery, and put an end to our isolative tendencies.

If your loved one is struggling with addiction, give The Riverbank House a call. We would love to have your son, husband, brother, etc. connect as a member of our community.
Reach out to our Outreach Director Joe at (516) 286-6024.