Clinical psychologist Dr. Neil Schierholz, founder of the Angeles Psychology Group, tells Inside the Issues some people may be struggling with their addiction while staying home during the coronavirus outbreak. He says there are a variety of addictions people can be fighting.
“What we're talking about is the substance-related and addictive disorders and this could be anything from caffeine and alcohol to prescription drugs and recreational drugs. I want to toss in here, it’s not in this diagnostic category, but I want to toss in food as well, because I know a lot of people are reaching for food and they’re noticing changes in how they're consuming food and what kinds of food they're eating,” he says.
What all of these have in common, he says, is the effect on a brain’s reward system, which can lead someone to neglect their daily activities. Dr. Schierholz says isolation is a key problem and can be detrimental to those who are in a sobriety program.
“What I would say to folks who are in that category is, increase your number of online meetings and that's really where you're going to have to go right now. I know it's not the same as meeting in-person, but it's the best that we've got,” he says.
Dr. Schierholz also suggests increasing contact with a sponsor and sticking to a daily schedule.
“Post it, carry it with you and then stick to it. It will help to maintain your sobriety and to manage your use, if you're not on an abstinent program.”
He stresses that finding structure and a routine is especially important.
“What we know is that lack of structure, lack of a daily routine, a schedule, and especially isolation, are especially detrimental impacts on folks who are healing and in recovery and struggling with addiction,” he says.
If family members might be concerned about someone, Dr. Schierholz said direct and honest communication is best.
“Check in on those folks you’re concerned about. If you have some concern about their usage, bring that up, it's fine to do so. Absolutely,” he says. “And for those of you, if you're hearing that, if you're hearing from friends, family that, ‘Hey, I'm concerned about your use,’ ask yourself, ‘Do I feel angry that they’re bringing this up? Have I tried to reduce my use and has it been difficult? Do I notice my use increasing?’”
“These are all indicators that you might want to reach out for professional help, if you're not already in therapy or working with a professional, and if you're not already working something like, in recovery a 12-step program.”
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