Florida’s lockdown could reveal undiagnosed depression and trigger addiction relapse

Orlando, Fla. — As most Floridians are self-quarantined at home, isolation and boredom is an extra struggle for people recovering from substance addiction.

Our social lives have come to a stop and added anxiety over the virus can make it easy for recovering alcoholics to relapse.

“When people are in a crisis-mode, if feels like all the rules are suspended and sometimes that is a signal to somebody with an addiction history that they can get away with things that they normally would not,” says Dr. Michael Murphy Executive Medical Director at River Oaks Treatment Center in Tampa.

(App users tap here to listen to the whole conversation with Dr. Murphy)

When people feel hopeless, stressed or afraid, it may lead them back to using drugs or drinking in order to not feel those feelings.

Being alone can be a trigger for some people to relapse or reveal a drinking problem.

“Certainly if you’re having falls or blackouts, using more when you normally don’t drink to that degree, sleeping a lot, avoiding interaction,” Dr. Murphy says these are all signs that you may have a problem.

Loneliness is bad for your health. So much so, the Department of Health and Human Services calls loneliness an epidemic—as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

River Oaks Treatment Center offers these tips for combating this feeling.

  • Accept and acknowledge your lonely feelings and ask for help.
  • You can consider reaching out to:
  • Use social media only when it makes you feel good and disconnect from it when it worsens your emotional distress. There are helpful apps, even therapy apps, that can assist you in handling the burden of feeling lonely or isolated. But certain apps may only make you feel worse, especially if you find yourself comparing yourself with others who "appear" to be better off or more socially connected than you.
  • Volunteer. Getting out and doing something that helps others, while meeting new people along the way, can do a lot for helping you feel more connected and for creating meaningful relationships.
  • Join a club or a meetup group. You can find meetup groups or clubs that cater to specific interests and hobbies easily online.
  • Take care of yourself. Attending to your health can help you feel better not only physically but mentally and emotionally.
  • Exercise.
  • Get out in the sun.
  • Eat well, focus on fresh foods.
  • Get quality sleep.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers more reading on the topic of stress and keeping sobriety during this pandemic.

It's also worth noting studies have shown a correlation between excessive alcohol consumption and a weakened immune system.

This can be dangerous specifically when it comes to a person’s susceptibility to pneumonia.

Unlike the Spanish Flu of 1918, the majority of the nation has a virtual world at their fingertips.

AAC is hosting virtual support meetings, that are free for anyone to join.  If you're worried about relapsing or just need some social support, you can find a helpful checklist and more information here.

More ideas about how to maintain a healthy mental state at home during the COVID-19 crisis  can be found here.

Remember, you’re not alone. We’re all going through this together and it’s more important than ever to reach out for help when you need it.

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