As we move deeper into another wave of covid-19, we’re reminded of the huge impact the pandemic is having on us all. Hanging over us is the fear of contracting the virus, the anxiety around sharing it with colleagues and family, the stress of managing increasing workloads and juggling work and home lives.
At Pharmacist Support, we recognise that all these negative emotions can quite easily lead to negative behaviours. In times of stress, how easy it can be to reach for something to take the edge off, to ease the tension and worry and how sometimes this can lead to dependency. As we navigate through the months ahead and in recognition of Alcohol Awareness Week, we turned to our addiction support specialist, Paul Sunderland from Outcome Consulting for his thoughts and advice.
“The pandemic, and resulting lockdown, is a new way of life. It’s no surprise that in the current circumstances there is a temptation to self–soothe stress and anxiety with mood altering substances and behaviours. For many this self-soothing is just part of the transition but for others, especially those with a potential for addiction, these behaviours need to be noticed. After all, addiction is a cunning illness, persuading people that ‘things are not that bad … I can stop when the time is right’.”
We asked Paul to share with us his top tips for addressing dependency behaviours:
Recognition – we can only change the things that we acknowledge, so recovery from problematic behaviours and addiction begins with an admission. If we can tell someone we trust about our difficulty, we can also admit it to ourselves. Addiction hates exposure as it thrives in the dark.
Control – when we feel powerless over events it is important to think about the things that we do have power over. One of the things that we can take control over is our selfcare. Now is a great opportunity to address how we treat and look after ourselves. A way to do this is to set simple exercise, nutritional, and relaxation goals.
Vision – look for opportunities to try new things or things that you have been meaning to follow through on. Write them down as a list because writing imprints them in our minds. Sharing your vision also imbeds the intentions, encourages support and keeps us accountable. Remember: thinking about change is a dream, making a plan makes it possible, taking action makes it happen.
While recovery from addiction can seem daunting, with the right strategies, treatment and support, change is possible. As the profession’s independent charity, if you’re struggling to manage dependency issues, we encourage you to reach out to us and take advantage of our free and confidential addiction support service. In these times of uncertainty, reach out for the right thing – support.
Pharmacist Supports Addiction Support Programme exists to support people experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating disorders or other types of dependency. This service provides access to fully qualified addiction specialists, and all calls to the helpline are entirely confidential. If you have a dependency issue, or if you know of a friend or colleague with a problem, you can contact the Addiction Support Programme direct for advice on 0808 168 5132 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in the Natural Pharmacy Business Magazine December 2020/January 2021 edition.