Recovery is much different in isolation.

That is one of the first things people in recovery learn when they start their journey. Getting clean means establishing and rebuilding relationships with a healthy foundation.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has countries all over the world putting cities under lockdown and quarantine. Some governments are highly discouraging people from going out.

Establishments are closing down and people are now refusing to leave their homes. This leaves some individuals with a challenge: balancing social distancing and addiction recovery.

For many, face-to-face interactions are a necessary form of support. If you are one of those people, it’s okay. There are alternatives that can keep you safe without hurting your recovery.

Social distancing is key to stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus. As a member of society, it is now your responsibility to keep yourself and your community as healthy as possible.

Your recovery does not have to take a backseat. Despite the coronavirus outbreak, you can still focus on getting better by turning to other methods and techniques.

First, do not let yourself feel ashamed for having specific needs for your overall health. Everyone is currently making adjustments to their lifestyle.

The decisions you make for your wellbeing during this time are just as essential as everyone else’s.

Fortunately, giving and receiving support does not have to stop when you’re unable to meet in person.

Make Your Support System a Priority (Remotely!)

With social distancing, addiction support programs are shutting down across the nation. These are settings where you may feel most comfortable talking about staying clean.

You must remember that other people in your life care about your wellbeing, too.

Now is the time to prioritize your personal support system. These are people in your personal life who you can rely on. These people are:

  • Your family members
  • Your close friends
  • Your sponsor

Just like you, these people are also dealing with the struggles of social distancing and self-quarantine. Use this time to offer each other comfort.

There are many ways to connect with your support group remotely. Aside from frequent calls or texts, you can use video conferencing programs to keep in touch with them.

Check on them frequently, update them on your state, and be open about how you feel. People around you will only know you need help if you tell them.

Cancel Live Therapy for Therapy and Mental Health Apps

Therapy and mental health apps have been suggested as an alternative for people who cannot afford to see a therapist. They are reasonably-priced or free and use techniques and resources from live therapy sessions.

Experts claim that mental health apps can be a valuable supplement to treatment.

The best part about them? They can be used anywhere at any time.

A quick look in your smartphone’s app store will give you tons of options. You can pick which one suits your needs the most. Better yet, you can choose a mental health app that is designed for recovering addicts.

Unsure which mental health app is compatible with your case? Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

These programs are a good way for you to practice accountability, which is a central step in staying clean. Some apps will help you track thoughts and behaviors, whether they lead to good or bad habits.

Similar to typical therapy sessions, these apps require complete honesty for your own benefit. This especially when you are connected to a real psychotherapist.

Other apps connect you to other individuals in the same position as you. In this time of social distancing, you won’t have to wonder if you’re alone in your experiences.

Best case scenario, these apps will be so helpful to you that you’ll keep using them after the world has recovered from the pandemic.

Either way, share your experience and progress in your apps with your therapist after the pandemic passes. That information can be valuable to your wellbeing moving forward.

Use Telehealth Apps Instead of Clinics

Telehealth apps are a valuable option for those undergoing recovery with the assistance of medication.

Ultimately, companies are still figuring out how to make these apps compatible with addiction recovery programs. Still, they can be a valuable resource when you are unable to visit your normal clinic.

Their goal is that you will have access to your medication and treatment, even if there’s no need for social distancing. With the reported boost in people using telehealth apps, there is a new initiative to offer much-needed services that deal with addiction.

Telehealth apps are highly recommended if you are at the stage of recovery where you need to be monitored or receive counseling. If you are in danger of relapsing, you can be immediately connected to doctor support.

From detox to aftercare, telehealth apps let you carry on with your treatment with the same privacy with more accessibility and flexibility.

Remember that telehealth apps are not an absolute replacement. It remains essential that you see medical professionals for your own recovery program.

Additionally, governments have yet to add telehealth apps to healthcare policies. Though they might be addressed during the outbreak, you will likely have to pay for these services out of your own pocket.

Talk to Your Care Team About Remote Treatment

Remind yourself that your care team is genuinely concerned about your progress and wellbeing. Social distancing does not change that.

If they haven’t initiated it themselves, reach out to them about remote treatment. Your care team includes your primary physician, specialists, therapists, and even your pharmacist.

Psychotherapists have already started using video conferencing programs to meet with their clients as regularly as possible.

Being able to maintain your recovery routine is essential.

Rest assured, adjustments can be made for the sake of your health. Outpatient programs have always been available. These services can and should be offered to you, too.

Techniques for self-management can change over time. Even if you’ve established a method to control urges and harmful habits, your needs may change under the situation of the coronavirus.

For your care team to work as efficiently as possible for your recovery, everyone has to be up-to-date with how you are doing. You can ask a caregiver, or someone from your core support group, to help you keep everyone in the loop.

Use ‘Social Distancing’ as a Reason to Focus on Self-Care and Personal Development in Recovery

Your own outlook on the current situation greatly impacts your recovery progress. It is important to realize early on how you can benefit from social distancing.

Things may seem bleak right now, but this is the best time to practice self-care. Having all this time on your hands can be overwhelming unless you maximize it.

You can start by making time for activities that make you happy. Here are some ideas you can start with:

  • Pick up that book that you’ve been meaning to read
  • Look up some recipes you want to try and cook them
  • Start a new video game and play it with your friends

Whatever the activity, use it to unwind and release pent up stress and anxiety. Let yourself relax and recharge. Soon enough, each day will become easier.

Physical self-care is just as important. Effective recovery is done holistically and includes your physical health.

Being at home doesn’t have to take away from exercising. Get creative with your household items or look up a workout that doesn’t need equipment at all. For example, your stairs can be part of your new cardio routine.

Things may seem stuck in a loop when you’re spending every day at home. It may feel like you’re making no progress in your recovery.

To combat this feeling, it’s important to create changes on your own. You can add variety and actively keep track of your efforts to maintain recovery.

Journaling is one way to keep track. There are online programs with their own reward systems to encourage you to keep using them. You can also do it the old fashioned way.

The simple act of writing down your thoughts will help you realize that you are still making progress.

While you’re practicing social distancing, you can practice being more independent. There are always steps that you need to take on your own.

Knowing how to self-regulate and self-soothe will help you in the long run.

You Can Stay in Recovery During COVID-19

Struggling with your recovery is nothing to be ashamed of. Even if you were just recently stable, it does not undo the progress you have made.

If you relate to any of the described experiences without knowing the cause, you may be suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD).

Those with SUDs are especially vulnerable in isolation. For those in recovery, it could lead to a relapse. For others, it means worsening an already dangerous situation.

In this time of social distancing, you are highly encouraged to try the methods above. But getting a personalized and intensive treatment is crucial for your health and safety.

You don’t have to get better alone, even when you’re in self-quarantine.


  1. Use of Telemedicine in Addiction Treatment: Current Practices and Organizational Implementation Characteristics (March 2018)
  2. Do mental health mobile apps work: evidence and recommendations for designing high-efficacy mental health mobile apps (March 2018)
  3. Telemedicine struggles to be an option for everyone in the wake of coronavirus (March 2020)
  4. Make time for self-care during a self-quarantine (March 2020)

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