Reflections on addiction and recovery during COVID-19

Jack, 30, is 3 years into his recovery from heroin addiction. Here, he shares his reflections on nurturing his recovery during the current pandemic.

I have spent the majority of my life in and out of institutions, so in a way I have been preparing for quarantine my entire life. I am now accustomed to checking in with myself each day to see what feelings are coming up and the ways in which I can address them in a healthy manageable way. Routine is everything for me. I believe in the momentum of performing the right actions consistently over time. It is much easier to wake up and go for a jog when you’re on a consistent sleep schedule versus coming off a 3am pizza and depression nap.

Today I take preventive measures to keep my mental and emotional health intact. Recovery has given me a formula for a serene and sustainable life. In times like these, I have to be very conscious about letting go of expectations. I remind myself that everyday I lay my head on the pillow sober and I haven’t caused myself or anyone else harm is a win. My days are simpler now, AND THAT’S OK. My days are slower now, AND THAT’S OK.

I spend a lot of time each day thinking about what I would have done in this situation two years ago. When you’re a junkie and you don’t care if you live or die, you aren’t exactly putting a big emphasis on practicing things like social distancing. My focus would have been more on: the now astoundingly high import tax on my heroin, how I was going to keep my kit sanitary without the help of the local needle exchange, where I was going to sleep if the beaches and campsites were closed, how I was going to commit retail fraud if the shops were closed, how my dealers were going to avoid getting ratted on by neighbors for having visitors, and whether or not my supply was going to dry up all together.

Getting dope sick is not an option for a junkie. We go into survival mode and go to whatever sad lengths necessary to score. My heart goes out to those still suffering everyday.

These days my daily formula for success is simple and effective. I dedicate at least one activity to feeding my emotional, physical, and spiritual health each day. Today that looked like this:

  1. Meditating and journaling about what quarantine would have been like had I still been using and how grateful I am for the life I have today.
  2. Sunrise HIIT workout.
  3. An online NA meeting to connect with my community and be of service to struggling addicts.

I find that if I set myself up for success in the morning, then I tend to make better choices during those never ending evenings. Today, thanks to meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy I am able to sit with and sort through my distorted thoughts. That gift of recovery has been priceless during these strange slow times.

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