Addiction Recovery: COVID-19 Pandemic Affects People in Sobriety

addiction

If you are like most Americans, then coronavirus (COVID-19) is on your mind throughout the day. It’s the most severe pandemic since the worldwide influenza outbreak of 1918. In the United States, COVID-19 is the deadliest epidemic since the onset of the opioid addiction crisis in America in 1999.

From 1999 to February 2019, nearly 500,000 thousand Americans died from drug overdoses. From the beginning of March 2020 to March 27, there have been 1,301 reported deaths in the United States related to COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases stands at 86,012 in the U.S., according to The New York Times. At least 553,244 people have tested positive worldwide, with 25,035 reported deaths.

Our nation has just surpassed every other nation in COVID-19 cases. While Europe is still the epicenter of the pandemic, projections indicate that the U.S. is poised to take that position and will likely see the highest death toll. Reuters asked Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization (WHO), if the U.S. could become the new epicenter of the virus; her response:

We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential.”

As the number of positive tests exponentially increases each day in America, all of our lives have changed in unquantifiable ways. Schools are shut down, while businesses that can operate remotely continue to do so, but an untold number have had to close. Millions are newly unemployed as a result of this public health crisis.

Education and the economy are of vital importance to be sure; however, they both pale in comparison to the value of a single human life.

COVID-19 and Addiction

If you have been following the news reports, then you are probably aware that specific demographics are at higher risk of contracting and succumbing to the disease. Older demographics and those with pre-existing health conditions are most susceptible, including individuals living with the disease of addiction.

Those with active alcohol and substance use disorders need to take extra precautions. The coronavirus attacks the lungs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out that tobacco and cannabis smokers are at particular risk; the same is true for vapers.

NIDA also stresses that people with opioid use disorder (OUD) and stimulant use disorder could be vulnerable too. Both drugs are detrimental to respiratory and pulmonary health. Men and women in long term recovery are not in the clear either. NIDA writes:

We know very little right now about COVID-19 and even less about its intersection with substance use disorders. But we can make educated guesses based on past experience that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping and people with opioid, methamphetamine, cannabis, and other substance use disorders could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications—for multiple physiological and social/environmental reasons.”

Years of heavy drug and alcohol use can do irreparable damage to one’s health. Many people in recovery have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases. Even those in early recovery – both the young and old – have compromised immune systems, which can worsen the prognosis if they contract COVID-19.

As we have pointed out in a previous article, many 12 Step groups have resorted to conducting meetings online. Video conferencing is now instrumental in protecting the recovery of millions of Americans, and digital meetings prevent people from coming into contact with COVID-19.

Coping with Anxiety and Stress in Recovery

The entire nation rightly fears contracting coronavirus, which is placing enormous stress on all of us. Anxiety and stress are known triggers for relapse in the recovery community. At PACE Recovery Center, we ask that everyone in recovery be extra vigilant about recovery during this time.

We know that many people have lost their employment and are quarantined from friends, family, and networks of support. Everyone is facing adversity, and it’s essential to continue focusing on your recovery. You can still practice the principles of recovery in all your affairs even when you are cut off physically from your peers.

Take advantage of the online resources available and reach out if you find yourself craving drugs and alcohol. The program gave you tools for coping with challenging emotions and situations; we implore you to utilize them at all times.

Together, we can support each other from afar and prevent countless relapses. We are all in this together and will get through it, helping one another and adhering to the recommendations of our public health officials.

PACE would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones. Our prayers and thoughts are with all of you, and we hope that those battling COVID-19 make a speedy recovery.

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment for Men

During this trying time, it is still possible to begin a journey of addiction recovery. If you are an adult male living with alcohol, substance, mental, or a co-occurring disorder, then PACE Recovery Center can be of significant assistance. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and the precautions we’re taking to ensure the health safety of our clients.

Recovery at Risk Amid a Pandemic: Protecting Your Progress

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Recovery first is the pathway to continued progress. Those who make a daily commitment to prioritize sobriety by attending meetings, working with a sponsor, and paying it forward are destined for success. However, it’s challenging to put your recovery first when the country is in the grips of a deadly public health crisis.

Every American, both in recovery and out, is fully aware that social distancing is of vital importance. For most men and women, that might not be a protocol that’s difficult to adhere to, but for those who rely on mutual support groups, a pandemic presents problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has instructed every American to avoid large crowds and physical interaction. While there isn’t a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 or Coronavirus, there are steps that each of us can take to safeguard our health.

If you are an active member of a recovery community, then you understand that meetings are extremely important for sustaining your program. Discontinuing your attendance at 12 Step groups can significantly put your recovery at risk. So, if you are like most people in sobriety, then you are probably wondering how you are expected to carry on without regular meeting attendance?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to the question above. The fact is that we in the recovery community have never faced anything quite like this in our lifetimes. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded 17 years after the Spanish Flu of 1918. The influenza of the early 20th Century infected some 500 million people (nearly one-third of the world population) and resulted in anywhere from 50 and 100 million casualties.

Even though we have never dealt with a public health crisis like this before, it’s possible to keep your recovery intact.

COVID-19 in Recovery

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines on protecting your health. At PACE Recovery Center, we are following the public health agency’s suggestions in earnest to protect our clients. We hope that you will take the time to learn more about how you can protect yourself amid this most severe crisis.

Now, perhaps more than ever, the fellowship of recovery needs to work together to ensure the programs of millions of people aren’t derailed. Those in recovery – especially early sobriety – cannot isolate from their support network, but that is what the CDC is recommending.

In order to safeguard the recovery of countless individuals, support groups need to adapt in response to the pandemic. While it’s not the job of 12 Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to dole out public health advice, the organization is making recommendations to protect its members.

The General Service Office (G.S.O.) of Alcoholics Anonymous has offered AA Intergroups across the country some valuable advice for handling the crisis. The resource center for AA members has shared what some groups are doing to deal with the pandemic in hopes that it will steer other groups in the right direction. On March 16th, 2020, the G.S.O. issued an updated statement on the crisis. The General Service Office writes:

Our collected experience suggests that groups that are unable to meet at their usual meeting places have begun to meet digitally; doing so in a sensible and helpful manner to allow the group to continue keeping the focus on our common welfare and primary purpose. Some groups that are still meeting in person have shared about making changes to customs at their meetings. Some examples have included: avoiding shaking hands and handholding; making sure meeting hospitality tables are sanitary; or suspending food hospitality for the time being. Many groups have also made contingency plans in case the group is temporarily unable to meet in person.

Recovery Support Groups Contingency Plans

It’s worth noting that some 12 Step groups are still meeting in person despite the elevated threat to member safety. However, the G.S.O. shares that many support groups are going digital. Switching from “in-person” meetings to online is a sound method of preventing disease transmission. Rightly, the G.S.O. points out that regardless of individual group decisions, each member is responsible for their health.

If your health is compromised, such is the case for many in early recovery and especially those with respiratory conditions, then attending meetings could be risky. Such individuals must take steps to protect their progress and sustain their recovery. The G.S.O. recommends:

  • Creating Contact Lists
  • Staying in Touch with Your Sponsor and Support Group via Telephone
  • Utilizing Email and Social Media
  • Conducting Meetings by Phone or Video Conference.

The best thing you can do for your recovery at this time is to maintain constant contact with your support network. If you require further guidance, then utilize your local AA resources. Contact the AA intergroup or central office in your area. You can also turn to AA websites for more information.

Southern California Gender-Specific Recovery Center

At PACE Recovery Center, we encourage you to strike a balance between your physical and mental well-being. Please do not take unnecessary risks and again stay in touch with your support network as much as possible. You have the power to sustain your recovery and protect your health during this unprecedented time.

Please contact PACE if you are an adult male struggling with addiction or mental illness. We offer several evidence-based programs that can help you begin and sustain a journey of lasting recovery.

Recovery Roads: Is AA the Most Effective Path to Sobriety?

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There are many roads that people take to achieve sustained addiction recovery. What works for one person may not have the same effect on another. Last week, we wrote at length about the benefits of gender-specific addiction treatment. We also discussed the value of brotherhood and fellowship in recovery.

When the word fellowship comes to mind regarding sobriety and abstinence, most people think of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). There is a good reason for that association; AA and 12 Step recovery has been extant for a long time. Moreover, millions of Americans and individuals across the world owe their recovery to working the 12 Steps.

Most evidence-based addiction treatment centers, including PACE Recovery Center, introduce clients to AA and Narcotics Anonymous. The hope is that when one completes a stay in rehab, they will continue being an active member of a 12 Step fellowship.

Long-term recovery hinges on continued maintenance. Continued progress depends on dedicating one’s self to working the Steps in all your affairs and practicing the principles established in 1935 when AA was founded.

While there are other modalities than 12 Step recovery such as SMART Recovery, most addiction experts recommend the former. You detox, undergo cognitive behavioral therapy, learn how to cope with challenges, and prevent relapse while in treatment. After rehab, you continue working with others both in and out of meetings to keep your recovery and show newcomers how to do the same.

For 85 years, men and women from all walks of life have joined forces against their common foe: the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. Today, we refer to those types of behavioral health conditions as alcohol use disorder (AUD) and substance use disorder (SUD).

The Most Effective Path to Long-Term Recovery

Even though Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for quite some time, there is not much research on the program’s efficacy. However, we now have a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of AA on alcohol use disorder, CNN reports. The research appears in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review.

Dr. Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, and his colleagues evaluated 35 studies. After looking at the research of 145 scientists and more than 10,000 participants, Dr. Humphreys and his team concluded that AA might be the most effective path to abstinence for people living with AUD.

The researchers found that when a counselor encouraged a client’s adherence to the 12 Steps, it was more effective for achieving abstinence, compared to other psychotherapies. The authors’ key findings include:

  • AA and Twelve‐Step Facilitation (TSF) interventions usually produced higher rates of continuous abstinence than the other established treatments.
  • Clinically‐delivered TSF interventions designed to increase AA participation usually lead to better outcomes over the subsequent months to years in terms of producing higher rates of continuous abstinence.
  • AA/TSF will probably produce substantial healthcare cost savings while simultaneously improving alcohol abstinence.
  • AA was more effective for women than men, slightly.

An advantage that AA has over the kind of therapies I was trained to do, is that people can persist in it a very long time, which gives them a better shot at recovery because you could literally go to AA everyday for years and years and years if you wanted to,” Humphreys said. “That may be better matched with chronic disease than short-term interventions the health care system usually gives.”

The Advantages of AA

Dr. Humphreys points out some of the advantages AA has over other therapeutic techniques. He says that 12 Step programs are free, offer social support, and inspiration, according to the article. Humphreys adds that 12 Step groups can provide insular resilience to situations that could potentially trigger a relapse.

Working a program can “help people create senses of worth and value that occur in the brain and don’t center around alcohol, retraining the brain to live differently,” Humphreys said. The professor of psychiatry rightly adds that AA instills hope for a better life in ways that some professionals cannot. Dr. Humphreys says:

I can say to someone, ‘Believe me, you can have a better life than what you’ve got right now,’ but it’s pretty powerful when someone says, ‘I’m not just telling you that, I had your life. Look at me — I’m also an alcoholic, and I’m having a really good life. If I could do it, you could do it.’ “

The review has some limitations which should prompt further study. Dr. Jennifer Plumb Vilardaga, clinical psychologist at Duke University Health, who wasn’t part of the review notes that the analysis did not focus on how effective AA was with:

  • Psychological Well-Being
  • Overall Health
  • Adolescents
  • Members with Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Dr. Vilardaga says that people with AUD and co-occurring mental illness may benefit more from a combination of professional counseling and working an AA program, the article reports. She states:

As a psychologist myself, my read of the literature is that if you have a significant mental health issue, you’re still better off seeking professional counseling to address your alcohol as well as your mental health concerns.”

Orange County Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we help adult males break the cycle of addiction, and our clinicians also specialize in treating individuals struggling with co-occurring mental health disorders. Our team understands that finding long-term recovery rests on treating the whole client.

More than half of the people with AUDs and SUDs meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis. It’s essential to address addiction and mental illness simultaneously. With the aid of evidence-based therapies and adherence to a 12 Step program, you or a loved one can achieve sustained recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our gender-specific addiction and mental health treatment center.

Addiction Recovery: Brotherhood and Fellowship is Beneficial

addiction recovery

One of the benefits of seeking gender-specific addiction treatment is fostering relationships with people of the same sex. Early recovery is a challenging time, and avoiding distractions is paramount. Men who stick close to other men are better able to stay the course of addiction recovery during this period.

At PACE Recovery Center, we firmly believe that men can more easily stay focused without the distraction of the other sex. Gender-specific treatment provides men the opportunity to bond and work closely with relatable people. Our facility gives men the ability to address the factors that contributed to their addiction from the male perspective.

Addiction is a complex disease that affects men and women in different ways. Adult males face unique societal, familial, and environmental pressures, some of which play a role in developing alcohol and substance use disorders.

Being in the company of individuals who have faced similar pressures as you is hugely beneficial. Men understand each other better, and in ways that women cannot, which is why choosing gender-specific treatment is ideal for achieving successful outcomes.

Some of the fellows you go through addiction treatment with will become lifelong brothers in recovery. Brotherhood and fellowship are essential to sustain lasting recovery.

A Recovery Brotherhood

After treatment, you will work closely with other men to achieve common goals. Your sponsor will also be male, which means he can understand what you’re going through when working the steps. What’s more, your deep bench of support will consist primarily of men; these are the people you will turn to when obstacles arise.

While you will inevitably foster platonic relationships with women in the program by attending meetings, building strong bonds with men must come first. If you prioritize establishing a strong sense of community with other men, then you will be better able to always put your recovery first.

Early addiction recovery is a fragile time that requires dedication and focus. Members of the opposite sex can be a significant distraction during your first year. Friendships with women can quickly morph into something more. You may have heard by now that it’s best to steer clear of romantic entanglements during your first year.

You will have a much better understanding of how you perceive and connect with the opposite sex once you have worked all 12 Steps. Many men in early recovery do not know how to be only friends with women. Moreover, female interactions can be triggers for some individuals; romance has been a factor for many a relapse in early recovery. So is rejection!

If you develop feelings for another member of the program and it’s unrequited, it can lead to negative self-talk and a sense of unworthiness. You can avoid such occurrences by sticking close to other men in the program.

As you become more stable in your recovery, you will learn how to have healthy relationships with women. There is no need to rush because there will be plenty of time down the road for romance, provided that recovery comes first always.

Lifelong Friendships with Men in Addiction Recovery

Finding long-term recovery depends upon your ability to work closely with other men. Achieving milestones in the program doesn’t happen without help. If you bond with men in your homegroup – both inside and outside the meeting rooms – they will become your sober friend group.

After working with such people for an extended period, you will feel a connection. There will not be anything that you will not feel comfortable sharing with your brothers in recovery. Your male friends will provide you with valuable feedback and help you stay accountable. They will also let you know if they think you are putting something before your recovery.

Simply put, having friends is essential to sustaining your program, and having friends of the same sex is best in early recovery. If you stay the course and follow directions, you are guaranteed to develop lifelong friendships with men in addiction recovery.

Southern California Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

While beginning a journey of recovery at a co-ed facility is possible, those hoping to break the cycle of addiction for good often find gender-specific treatment the best starting point. If you are an adult male who is struggling with addiction, co-occurring disorder, or a standalone mental illness, the PACE Recovery is here to help.

Please contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based treatment center and the benefits of gender-specific therapies. We are available to answer your questions or begin the admissions process around the clock, 365 days a year. You can reach out to us today at 800-526-1851 to start the journey of addiction recovery.

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