It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has affected Hoosiers in a variety of ways, and it especially challenged those struggling with addiction and those living in recovery. For many, the isolation, shuttered facilities and other recovery outlets took a toll. For some, it took everything, as overdose deaths rose 30% in the United States in 2020 according to the CDC*. While the impact was tragic and staggering, many in the recovery community also learned about resilience in the face of crisis.
To provide insights and advice based on his professional and lived experience, Brandon George, the vice president of recovery programs and advocacy at Mental Health America of Indiana, offered his time to the Be Well Indiana blog to discuss the realities of addiction and recovery along with ways to help people maintain recovery. Brandon has an intimate and personal understanding of addiction and recovery as a person who is living in recovery himself.
Above all, Brandon emphasized the importance of connection, “We talk about people in crisis and what helps them sustain recovery. The answer is almost always connection. Recovery is not the opposite of addiction. Connection is the opposite of addiction.” It’s important to be connected to community, but especially connected to those who have been there before. To make these connections stronger, he advises maintaining and building important relationships with people you can count on, whether that’s a sponsor, a friend in recovery or even understanding family members. By consistently putting time and effort into a relationship, you can strengthen it. That way, when you are in crisis, you feel more comfortable reaching out, and your confidant may be better at recognizing that you are struggling.
In addition to connection to your recovery community, it is important to be aware of your behavior and mood. Your recovery is unique to you.
Signs you or a loved one may be struggling:
Return to old behaviors
Helpful techniques that can help you maintain recovery:
Join a daily check-in group – Indiana Recovery Network App is a local option
Practice meditation or quiet time
Create a Gratitude List and focus on mindfulness
Implement an exercise routine
If you experience a setback:
Have honest communication with yourself and others
- Be honest about what happened, examine why it happened
- Set expectations with loved ones
Reestablish a safe recovery environment
- Reconnect to what helped in the past: groups, meetings, etc.
- Put yourself in an environment where you can feel safe and are able to be honest
Accept and keep moving forward
- Recovery is not a linear process, and that is OK
- Learn from the experience
Call 2-1-1 to speak with a peer recovery specialist. Free and confidential
Despite the challenges, Brandon still sees the hope of recovery. While recovery is not easy, Brandon says it is to be celebrated, “Recovery has completely changed my life. It’s changed the life of most people I know. It’s cool to count years or look at anniversaries, but let’s look at more practical stuff… Whether it’s education, relationships or employment or spouses – the growth in those areas is what we should celebrate.”
It’s important to understand that addiction is a chronic illness, and that recovery is life-long. There’s more than one way to get into recovery, everyone’s path is different and what works for some may not work for all. If you are struggling with drug or alcohol use, or need support on your path of recovery, call 2-1-1 to speak with a peer recovery specialist. You are not alone.
To be able to focus on mental health, your basic needs (shelter, food, clothing, health care, etc.) must be met first. Indiana 211 is a free, safe and confidential way to connect to resources from around the state and in your community.
If you need support, call 2-1-1. The resources on Indiana 211 are updated weekly to provide the most accurate services.