This has been a time of change, unknowns and confusion. Progress can be defined as “forward or onward movement toward a destination”. For those in early recovery, the path towards progress that they had laid out initially to maintain sobriety has inevitably been altered in some way as a result of this pandemic. A typical and comprehensive early recovery treatment plan, at minimum, involves social and peer support, attending self-help meetings, therapy and recovery coaching, exercise, vocational planning or academic pursuits. Each of these domains of early recovery has been impacted in some way. Social support is engaged in more remotely; self-help meetings are no longer in person and are held via video conference; therapy and recovery coaching are remote through some form of telemedicine; exercise that was once done at gyms or studios is now conducted remotely to be done in the home; jobs may have been lost or are having to be conducted from home; and academics are solely remote at this time.
As a result of this pandemic, the human connection component of addiction recovery has been altered to a more disconnected form. For some individuals, this can allow them to more easily access meetings and services, but for others, they are missing the personal contact and may feel isolated. The goals that individuals had been working towards have had to change in order to accommodate the current COVID-19 guidelines. For many, the structure that they had created prior to this pandemic has been pulled from them and they are forced to create order in their days where it once existed. Addiction is known to thrive in isolation, and the present scenario can leave many in early sobriety at risk for relapse.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment Institute (IHATI) trains addiction professionals in an innovative and adaptable treatment model that is much needed during this time. This pandemic has created a need, more than ever, for in-home treatment. IHATI trained addiction professionals are able to support clients in administering year long recovery-based curriculum, finding the best community and clinical resources and to create a genuine sense of ongoing connection during the first year of their client’s recovery. They are also able to support clients in changing their idea of what “progress” is during this time, and adapting their behavioral schedules and treatment plans to reflect those alterations. Families are in need of resources and guidance, as they may be in closer contact with their loved ones in early recovery. Alternatively, they may be feeling disconnected and need education and coaching to best support them during this unprecedented time.
This has been a time of adapting to change and redefining progress. For the path that we once were on has changed and we need to find a new way to view it. Progress may now be defined by accomplishing even the smallest goals for the day, and by maintaining recovery stability. Progress does not need to be large and dramatic. In fact, those who are properly supported in adjusting their view of progress during this time, will feel a greater sense of accomplishment when we are able to safely reengage in our communities.
By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC