Sobriety and COVID-19: Coronavirus brings heightened challenge to those in recovery

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - "The new normal." It's a phrase we've been hearing a lot of lately as we adjust our lives to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. For those battling addiction, adjusting to that new normal can be an even bigger struggle.

In-person support groups are essential for those in recovery. While a call for social distancing may help slow the spread of disease, it raises other concerns for those battling addiction, but there are other ways to cope.

Jess Limbird is a program manager for Recover Alaska. She says those who offer support and recovery groups are already shifting how they connect. She says it's all about getting innovative in finding those supports.

"Mutual aid groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) do have telephone meetings," said Limbird. "There are virtual meetings here in Alaska, but nationally as well. Lots of different apps exist, so some of the ones that we're aware of, and we like to support and promote are Sober Grid, Hello Sunday Morning, and Step Away is another one that we've just sort of learned about."

Many people are understandably panicked, and the urge to drink or use substances can be heightened in times like these. So whether you're in recovery or not, Limbird says it's important to stave off those urges and maintain a healthy mental and physical state.

"So, for me, some of my personal practice is around meditation and yoga, so those things are really important for me to maintain. We are in a new normal, so identifying new routines is really helpful. Making sure that we're eating healthy foods as much as possible."

Staying connected is an important component to anyone's mental health. Limbird says a phone call, or video calling with friends can help maintain those personal connections while social distancing.

"My to do at this point in time is try to reach out to at least two people that I know to check in on them," said Limbird. "Those relationships is what's going to keep us -- I think it's what's going to keep me sane and steady for the next few weeks."

If you or someone you know is struggling through addiction you can reach out to Recover Alaska via their Facebook page, or visit their website for a list of resources across Alaska.

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