Behind the Mask: A Huther Doyle Blog.
By Matthew F. - Peer Advocate at Huther Doyle
It is increasingly understood that addiction arises out of an experience of disconnection from security in our lives, or other traumatic events. The disconnection is a general kind of trauma that can come from chronic unemployment, poverty, an abusive relationship, chaotic home lives and even natural disasters, including Covid-19. Covid-19 has quite literally brought most of the world to a standstill, uprooting us from the patterns of life that we worked so hard through generations to establish.
We should not be surprised to learn after the full toll of the pandemic is measured, that the number of newly addicted people has mushroomed in size and that the severity of addiction is painfully increasing. Alcohol sales in the United States have already increased 243% since the lock-down started. People are at home often feeling listless, hopeless, bored, frustrated, isolated and, often lonely, even if they are with family or friends in relative isolation.
As the pandemic wears on and the death toll mounts, so will people’s sense of disconnection to their lives before. It may become increasingly more likely that people will begin reaching more and more for substances to soothe a bleak mood or confused outlook. With this in mind, people in recovery, their peers and those they love, can start thinking about ways to establish new sources of meaning and security in their lives.
While the shared situation in America is not a cause for confidence, it is important to remember that the massive disruption of Covid-19 is also an opportunity for everyone to evaluate how their lives were before. This process is not only one of counting and accepting what has been lost but can also become a story about rebuilding.
This period in our lives is a chance to disrupt addictive patterns and establish healthier, new ones. Although the pandemic is in some way an opportunity for all of us to grow, it is important not to put pressure on ourselves to succeed ‘through’ this and to not worry unnecessarily about what we’re doing wrong, or if it’s as good as others’ on Facebook.
Today, you can find a thousand bewildering articles online about how to make the most of the pandemic, pressuring you to become a philosopher, a bread baker or take the now-free classes in neurochemistry at Harvard or adopt 5 survival habits. Unfortunately, that kind of paralyzingly rushed energy, high-striving and pointless comparison is what often characterized most of what was wrong about our lives before.
Because everyone is struggling, and most everyone is increasingly disconnected, the most healing and regenerative thing we might do for our lives is also the mutually beneficial act of helping other people around us if we can or accepting their help. Helping others costs us nothing except a small amount of time. Although most of us are worrying about how we can lift ourselves up out of this difficult period, we could indirectly accomplish that by lifting others up around us.
If reducing our addictions will involve reestablishing new sources of connection and meaning in our lives, then connecting with others and helping them will become a way to build meaning with them that can also be held in memory. It is the clearest and most secure path forward as individuals and communities if we want to try to ensure that addictions will not continue to flourish in the post pandemic world.
Even if we don’t have goods or money to donate, we might have more time that we could spend reaching out to those we love, like and miss. If you know someone in your life that struggles with addiction or love someone who does, consider reaching out to them (or more often.)
If you live with addiction right now and you’re reading this, then consider that this time in your life is one when you can deepen your connection with others in recovery. It is also a time to remind the people you love that you are there for them and happy to listen. This general way forward is accessible to everyone and benefits all people and can be a new foundation for our shared lives and our collective recovery.
Stay tuned for more Behind the Mask blog entries from Huther Doyle!