" I feel so ashamed. I don't even want to admit to you what I am feeling because of my fear of your accusing eyes. I won't tell you my name, what I do, or where I live. I can admit, I am embarrassed. Embarrassed because I have lost control of myself. I was doing so well, and then, well it just happened. Here I am again; living with this damn addiction."
This time of isolation has stirred people in more ways than one. Yes, we are dealing with financial uncertainty, social isolation, and the loss of our regular routines. What many of us are not dealing with is our mental health. I want to deal with one of my challenges; addiction.
First of all, let us deal with thoughts on addiction. When we think of addiction, many of us are drawn to the common image of a strung-out individual living on the street. People think that addiction is due to a lack of self-control. They don't understand that it is a complex, multifactorial disease. Unless you have personally dealt with addictions, it is hard to explain what makes addiction a disease and why it is so difficult to deal with. Unless someone has walked a mile in your shoes, don't worry about feeling judged. You just have to be realistic about your expectations of what people will be able to understand.
During this time, I have found it harder for dealing with my triggers. I have had to take extra precautions, which include staying away from people that are especially triggering. I really want the readers of this article to understand that people with addictive disorders may be aware of their problems, but it can be difficult to stop it, even if we want to. Many of us have to live with our addictions for the rest of our lives; we remain functional and have to be aware of how and when we are tempted to use.
Addictions come in two forms: substance and behavioral. Substance addiction is the dependence on any one or more of the following:
nicotine, or tobacco
inhalants, often household items like oven cleaners, spray paints, or other aerosol products
drugs, illicit or non-illicit
My addictions manifest in the behavioral form. They include:
using the Internet or social media
With our current isolation, people are generally dealing with increased mental health and substance abuse issues, and this is why recognizing addiction challenges in our loved ones is increasingly difficult. My heart reaches out to anyone dealing with mental health challenges right now, and I do have some suggestions for you:
Connect, Connect, Connect
There are numerous support outlets online that allow people in addiction recovery to connect with one another. There are secret Facebook groups and chat forums. Some of these forums offer daily affirmations, verses, and advice. A good way to mix it up is to incorporate online networking with face-to-face assistance (via Skype or Zoom), or calling 211 (Ontario, Canada). They will actually warm transfer you to mental health services active during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Make Yourself Uncomfortable
Diversify your activities by talking and connecting with people you usually don't talk to. Try different online forums. Go for a walk when you find yourself ruminating after being triggered. Learn a new skill. Start a hobby! Throw yourself into a project that helps you move away from your normal patterns.
Continue to Work on Yourself
Know that what you are dealing with is not easy, so don't beat yourself up. Build your own self-confidence and become comfortable with being alone. Be mindful of who you interact with. Learn more about your addiction. With knowledge comes power. I have found that the more I am able to understand what I am dealing with, the better I am at dealing with it.
Know you are not alone! WE all have our challenges. Take care of yourself, and continue to grow.
Simone Jennifer Smith Founder, Hear 2 Help Instagram: @simonejennifersmith Facebook: @simonejennifersmith LinkedIn: @simonejennifersmith Twitter: @SJS_H2H Pocket:@Simone Jennifer Smith Tumblr: Simone Jennifer Smith Alternative Email: email@example.com