Transitions Created by the Pandemic

by Elizabeth Lopez

Clients that got sober during the pandemic are now facing different challenges as our society transitions out of lockdown and social isolation. Many clients learned how to navigate the challenges of situational stressors, isolation, virtual therapy, and virtual meetings in order to successfully maintain their sobriety. I was impressed by the resilience and commitment that several of my clients displayed during such a difficult time. Most professionals had to pivot treatment in order to find creative ways to keep clients engaged in the early recovery process. Early recovery is already difficult, and the pandemic created another layer of challenges.

As things start to somewhat normalize with increased social gatherings, celebrations, and traveling, many of my clients are now having to learn how to cope with exposure to alcohol. This is typically something addressed earlier in someone’s recovery process because we live in a society that glamorizes alcohol. In fact, sometimes it’s almost impossible to avoid it altogether. As clients of mine that fit into this category start to attend social gatherings, they are experiencing an increase in anxiety as well as cravings. This makes sense given the isolation created by the pandemic.

The solution, I believe, is the same solution we use time and time again in recovery. Get back to the basics. Clients always benefit from reinforcement of relapse prevention and engaging in skill-based recovery to safeguard their sobriety. Focus on actions and implementing the necessary steps in order to decrease risk. Getting back to the basics is something most people in long-term recovery are familiar with because it is always something that can be grounding. Ironically, many people in long term recovery focused on this at the beginning of the pandemic when everything shifted. It is something to never forget and always remember. It works and at times the simplest solutions are the best.

~ Elizabeth Lopez (MA, LPC, NCC) is an experienced clinician at ETHOS Treatment. Her most recent emphasis in clinical practice has been focusing on strength-based interventions that increase self-compassion for those who struggle with low self-worth and self-defeating beliefs that lead to destructive cycles.