As coronavirus cases rise, so does my anxiety and fear about staying sober. 10 days into remaining inside, I start to feel hopeless and order a bottle of sauvignon blanc. I was almost one year sober prior to living in quarantine. Trust between me and my family members had finally been re-established. In the wake of coronavirus, I couldn’t help but wonder if all of my hard work had been for nothing. I dream about the alarming rates at which black Americans are affected by the virus. I fear my own family members will fall ill. I worry that supplies will eventually run low, and stores will close. The stress makes me want to drink daily.
Staying Sober in Quarantine
Staying sober while living in quarantine is even more stressful for newly sober people. Newly sober people are most susceptible to relapsing in their first month of sobriety. The beginning of recovery feels like hitting the fresh button on your body. The first 30 days feel empowering, and can cause former drinkers to feel a natural high. But these feelings don’t last forever. About 90 days in, this phase comes to an end. Social gatherings and work parties aren’t the same, and sometimes old habits and former friends have to be put to the wayside.
For alcoholics, the isolation of social distancing can bring back some negative feelings and habits that may have existed prior to quitting drinking. Separated from family and friends, left alone with uncertainty about the future, I started to drink again to cope with adapting to living in the age of quarantine. I smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day, and sleep during the day when I get the desire to drink. I worry that after a month, I will start binge drinking to escape the constant stream of news about coronavirus.
Every time I look at my phone there are advertisements promoting cleaning supplies. On Instagram, the hashtag coronavirus leads me to the CDC page. I feel overwhelmed by talk of coronavirus related deaths and new rules and regulations. I used alcohol three times in one week to drown out all of the noise surrounding coronavirus.
Putting Down The Bottle
I decide that no matter how much I drink, coronavirus will still exist. So, I decide to put down the bottle, and pick up a big book. I set a routine, which helps me stay sane and, for the most part, sober. Participating in healthy activities like: going on walks, reading poetry, and doing puzzles are fun ways to eliminate stress while remaining six feet apart.
I admire the women of 12-step programming and other recovery programs more than ever, and I encourage anyone to use the 12 Steps to seek comfort, especially amidst an international pandemic.
While I did relapse, I was quickly able to recover and continue on my path to sobriety. I have the women of Alcoholics Anonymous to thank for the constant stream of support and advice. In the coming months I will have to learn to live with the same people, but like staying sober, I will learn how to adapt to a new way of life.