| Peter Bragdon |
Loneliness. Boredom. Stress. Financial shortcomings. All are very common to many people right now. Covid-19 has changed our lives. We have been stripped of many of the items that make us happy. Along with this often comes the increased use of alcohol and drugs. Surveys from around the nation show a significant uptick in drinking and drug use. It’s no secret that overdoses have also been on the rise since Covid.
I hold addiction and alcoholism close to my heart. I would like to say I am recovered, but no matter how well you are doing, you are always in recovery. I want to bring attention to the matter and for people to think about what effect it has on ourselves, our families, and our professional lives.
How does someone tell if they have a problem? Have you ever had to tell yourself I am not going to have a drink today? Have you still had the drink? Do you have to hide from a loved one how much you drink? Is your life being affected by your substance use? Do you use the substance to hide or take away a pain? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it may be time to re-look at things.
Some people can stop drinking or drugging on their own. Most people will need meetings and counseling, and some people will need rehab, and that is okay. Whatever it takes, please do it. If you think you are going down a bad road, then make some changes. It is very important to realize that if you remove the substance or alcohol from your life, you will need to fill that gap with something else that is happy and healthy. Deep down inside there is something missing or not treated in your life to make you increase your substance use. Identifying and removing the trigger is key.
It’s best to have structure in your life. Have a planned time that dinner is served, have a time every day to go outside and walk 30 minutes, have a planned time of how much you watch TV, what time you go to bed, and make lists of what needs to be done every day. Take on a new project around the house, start a new craft or make something in the woodshop. Keep your mind busy. It may even come to that you need to change your group of friends if that is a trigger.
Times are not easy right now. The now popular catchphrase “It’s okay to not be okay” speaks volumes. Just don’t drown those pains with a substance. The removal of the pain with alcohol or drugs is temporary, but the negative effects can be long term. I am sure that each person who reads this will know someone close to them or it may be themselves that is struggling. What are some signs to look for in loved ones? Withdrawal from others, lack of work performance, moodiness, physical signs like impairment, speaking often about the next drink or getting drunk, not being worried about their actions like driving drunk, and of course denial.
The last thing someone wants to do is admit they have a problem. Remember, “Good people make bad choices, it doesn’t make them a bad person.” If it is you personally that is struggling, people will treat you with respect if you need help. If it’s someone else you’re trying to help, it can be a challenge until they want help.
There are many programs available. I encourage you to call 211 or go to the Maine 211 website, 211Maine.org. This is a great resource in many areas and not just substance abuse assistance.
We are in this together. Reach out if you have questions.
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