While we currently seem to be in a lull in the Covid19 crisis, the general consensus is that there will soon be a new surge just as there was with the Spanish Influenza. Individually, the best we can do is to continue to protect ourselves and others while we begin to recognize a “new normal.”
Does that sound familiar?
For over 15 years we have noted that eradicating self-medication from your life takes about a year before it becomes a comfortable new normal. My guess is that after 2 months some aspects of the “lockdown” are starting to feel “normal” while others have you putting in time until you can get back to the same familiar routines, habits, and activities – even if they kill you and/or those around you.
To a great extent, the U.S., and most of the world, is going through collectively what anyone experiences when they make a life-altering exchange: discomfort, anger, sadness, rebellion, denial, and then either acceptance and adjustment or a return to the same old destructive, if comfortable, habits.
Here in California it’s easily seen as folks in denial swarm the beaches, open or not. The thought pattern, if any, follows one familiar to every smoker, over drinker, speeder, and virus denier. Even if I do get caught, get the disease, effect those around me – these consequences won’t amount to much.
Of course that’s not exactly true.
Trouble is, accepting that “things” may never go back to what used to be normal, does mean adapting and most of us avoid adaptation like, well, like the plague – though in this case we seem to prefer the plague – especially if it only kills off the ailing elderly.
All of us are limited in terms of what we can do to avoid the pandemic.
But we are not limited in terms of what we can do about our self-destructive habits of choice. We don’t have to drink to excess – or at all – smoke, overeat, or drive 100 mph (another currently popular pastime on uncommonly empty CA freeways – one with deadly results.
So, what do we know? We can pretty much assume that it’s going to be a very long time before we again do a lot of traveling (even if we can afford it), attend big arena events whether concerts or sports, congregate in mass social events, or take a cruise.
Those things being givens, what can one do?
Perhaps you can think about proactively taking control of what you can in fact change. You can take a look at what things in your future are likely and how to adapt, accommodate, and change.
Already many of you are learning to work from home while also trying to figure out how to manage home schooling, cooking 7 days a week, and being cooped up with no relief from family members (okay – alcohol can offer temporary respite, but the results are even worse now than before and, remember, these conditions could go on for months and months and months).
My point is simply this: “things” are probably never going back to what they were 6 months ago. Adapting is hard. Creating a “new normal” won’t happen if you are self-medicating in hopes of “weathering the storm.”
Want some assistance in adjusting to the new realities we’re all facing (yes, Mary Ellen and me too)? We are both old pros at adapting and those skills are being honed again. Want to take advantage of that? Want to stop waiting for your old life to return – which isn’t going to happen – and create your new one actively and creatively rather than just waiting for circumstances to dictate it to you?
Please remember that your self-medicating is just a symptom – but these times make it a deadlier symptom than it was even 3 months ago.
Let us help you address the new anxieties, uncertainties, conditions and limitations so that you emerge from you cocoon of alcohol and isolation to a richer life than you’ve been living – not just for the past months, but for too many of the past years.