When headlines read “New Peak Of 71K US Overdose Deaths In 2019 Dashes Hopes,” such as was published recently in the New York Times and a host of other news outlets, things can appear bleak and hopeless. The Grants Pass Daily Courier newspaper, who also carried the story, printed, “Nearly 71,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, a new record that predates the COVID-19 crisis, which the White House and many experts believe will drive such deaths even higher.”
Leading the DOC (drug of choice) trend is fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids, which is responsible for 36,500 overdose deaths, according to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who released their preliminary numbers this month, on July 15, 2020. Their findings also revealed deaths caused by the usage of cocaine and methamphetamine are rising, too. Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir dubbed the news “a very disturbing trend,” while Brendan Saloner, an addiction researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, added, “I see a map of despair,” in reference to over 30 states showing increases in overdose deaths in the new data.
With a year marked with trajedy, including the still continuous spread of Covid-19, the killing of George Floyd, and an unstable economy just to name a few, staying sober, mentally healthy and not relapsing can be a very real challenge.
When a person is under stress, they will typically resort to their old patterns. Of course, this isn’t true 100% of the time. But it’s common that people return to what is familiar when faced with difficult circumstances. In recovery, stress can come and go, which is why it’s important to have support to rely on. In order to prevent a return to old ways (which may be the use of substances to cope), it’s important to ‘connect’ and stay connected with your sponsor, your fellowship friends, your family, as well as it’s always good to keep a list of friends, family, and professionals that are there for you.
In fact, one of the most important elements to a successful recovery is the strength of your support network. Staying sober alone doesn’t work for most recovering addicts because they tend to be their own worst enemy. There are old behaviors, thoughts, poor coping methods, and triggers that can make sobriety difficult. Yet, with a circle of supportive people, a person can break through their old patterns – especially under times of stress. Instead of reaching for a drink or a substance, for instance, when feeling some financial pressure, a person in recovery might call a friend to talk it through, and perhaps together they can find some solutions to the problem, without resorting to substance use.
Here are a few ways that you can grow a network of support:
Let yourself accept help from professionals. When you’re setting up your support system, know that there are professionals (therapists, mentors, sober companions and coaches, etc.) there to help you. You may want to include those professionals whom you trust and who have successfully worked with addiction and recovery. Sometimes, accepting help can be difficult for some people. But over time, with trusting relationships, accepting help can start to feel more natural.
Find new sober friends at 12-step meetings and support groups. When you’re attending AA or NA meetings, there are many others there who are in the same situation you are. And this alone can be the foundation for a friendship.
Look for role models. When you spend time with others who have achieved long term sobriety, you can learn from them. But more than that, they tend to have a particular mindset that you might not have yet developed. By spending time with others who have a mindset of health and enjoyment, you might start to pick up on the thoughts and feelings they’re having. You might start to develop the mindset that they’re in rather than a mindset that has been holding you down for so many years. Having successful and healthy people around you can support your growth.
Talk to a therapist or drug counselor about developing a support network. The two of you can discuss the benefits of having such a network and who to include. Also, a professional who is helping with this task might also have suggestions for who to include in your network of support. And keep in mind that your network doesn’t have to include people. It can include groups that you attend or organizations that provide a helpful service.
When you’re in recovery, having a community of people around you to support you can be incredibly effective. This is especially true if those people believe in you and can see in you the possibility for change.
If you or a loved one feels they need ‘more’ than what their community support can offer, another vital, successful resource is enlisting a sober companion or sober coach to help provide support; assist you in how to to better function in your day-to-day life; aid in medication compliance if needed, and keep you accountable in your growth in recovery, which can seem daunting at first if you are walking the fence on whether or not to reach for what’s familiar (contemplating an old pattern of using or drinking as a coping mechanism). Sometimes we intellectually know we should not be drinking or using because it’s problematic and doesn’t lead to anywhere meaningful, but the emotional component can be difficult. Connections in Recovery sober companions and sober coaches can help you navigate obstacles. Rest assured, our companion or coach is matched to each individual for a compatible fit.
If you would like to know more about our sober companions and coaches, we recommend reading our blog “Sober and Mental Health Coaches, Connections in Recovery New York: Concierge, Personalized Addiction Recovery in the Comfort of Your own Home,” which will shed more insight on how a Connections in Recovery New York sober and mental health coach can assist you or a loved one struggling.
The New York Times did a good write-up on the revival of drug overdose deaths titled, In Shadow of Pandemic, U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record. The article starts off with, “Drug deaths in America, which fell for the first time in 25 years in 2018, rose to record numbers in 2019 and are continuing to climb, a resurgence that is being complicated and perhaps worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.” To read the full article, click HERE.
Connections in Recovery (CiR) assists individuals struggling with addiction and mental health issues to connect with the best providers, recovery companions and treatment resources to support long-term positive recovery outcomes. Through personalized action plans, CiR is committed to finding the right solution, “best fit,” for each individual.