Social Anxiety and Addiction: Maintaining Recovery as the World Reopens after COVID
Social anxiety and addiction are often connected. It’s common for people to self-medicate for all types of anxiety with drugs and alcohol. Research indicates that over 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also struggle with alcohol use disorder. Marijuana, cocaine and benzos are also used to help cope with anxiety. But these drugs can make the problem worse. As the world starts to open up again after the COVID-19 Pandemic, many are still worried about gathering in crowds and getting infected during social interaction. If you’re in recovery, here’s how you can stop social anxiety from threatening your sobriety.
Continue COVID Caution
Infection control never goes out of style! People often turn to addiction from anxiety because they feel like they have no control. But there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself and the people around you safe. Think of it like the flu. Continue to wash and sanitize your hands. Maintain a safe distance from people in close quarters and, yes, if you feel comfortable, continue to wear a mask. If you feel sick, stay home. There is no reason to endanger yourself or your friends.
Just Say No…to Hanging Out
Anxiety and addiction often intersect because people are afraid of disappointing others. It’s OK to say that you’re not ready to get together. It’s also OK to say that you only want to see small numbers of people. Everyone has their own hang-ups about personal safety, and the pandemic put us all on edge in ways we never thought possible. Continue to interact with your expanded friends’ circle through text and video conferencing. Don’t compromise your comfort or safety level.
Keep Going to Therapy
It’s important to keep going to therapy even in long-term recovery. New issues emerge in our lives all the time. Therapy is the place where we go to process and work through them. The pandemic has created an endless slew of scenarios that can impact our mental health, from trying to stay sane during quarantine to figuring out when it’s finally safe to come out. Each end of the spectrum comes with its own psychological stress. Your therapist can help you deal with these issues as they come up, especially if they affect your addiction and anxiety issues.
Take Care of Yourself First
Nobody knows you better than you know yourself. You understand how much you can handle and how much you can’t. Practice mindfulness and make sure you’re eating right, exercising and doing the things you enjoy whenever and however you can. Don’t worry about fear of missing out (FOMO). Just make sure you’re comfortable and you’ll get back out there when you’re ready to be around people again.
Rely on Your Support System
You were probably interacting with your support system when the pandemic was at its worst; keep doing it. Attend virtual or in-person meetings. Keep in touch with your sponsor. Use the coping strategies you learned in your treatment program. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re stressed and that you need help or support…you’re not the only one.
Explore Activities that Can Help with Anxiety and Addiction Recovery
There are many activities that can help you decrease your anxiety. Try meditation, yoga or simple breathing exercises when you’re ready. Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to quickly lower stress in the body. Try some in-the-moment breathing exercises when you feel anxious or nervous. Practicing these techniques every day can reduce your long-term anxiety over time and significantly improve your mental health and quality of life.
What If My Anxiety Has Made Me Vulnerable to Addiction?
If you have not yet succumbed to addiction, but your anxiety is causing you to drink more or use drugs, the time to correct course is now. Tell a friend or loved one what you’re going through. Get yourself into therapy. You can also go to a recovery meeting to get support from those who have been where you are. If you find that your anxiety over the pandemic has gotten out of control and led to substance use disorder, start exploring options for treatment.
Anxiety and Addiction Treatment at Recovery Unplugged
Recovery Unplugged offers expert compassionate treatment for co-occurring addiction and anxiety. Our dual-diagnosis treatment programs address both addiction and mental illness. We accept most major insurances and have locations across the country. The pandemic has tested all our mental health. Some are having a hard time coming back from the stress of the event. Some are finding it hard to trust that it’s under control. No matter what your concerns are, you don’t have to let them drive you to addiction. Call Recovery Unplugged today at 800-55-REHAB. Our admissions team is waiting to answer all of your questions and help you start your treatment.