People recovering from addiction warn isolation can lead to relapse

Being in isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic can be hard on anyone. But for someone in recovery, isolation can lead them down the road to relapse.

"I’ll always say, I got this. I’m Bob Ackley blah-blah-blah. But I’m struggling with this."

Bob Ackley of Forest Lake has been in recovery for more than 40 years. The stay at home order, he says, reminds him of the times he’s relapsed.

"I’ve had four reoccurrences of use over the last 40 years, after long periods of recovery," Ackley said. "And it starts with me isolating and disconnecting myself from people."

COVID-19 has prompted the cancellation of AA meetings across the country as outpatient care moves online, leaving many alone with their demons.

"At the very least, this self-imposed isolation although a necessity can represent a trigger for someone," he said. "It can remind them of the times that they were using."

Lydia Burr is with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. She says there is also a high likelihood that isolation will force many to face their addiction for the first time.

"People who may have been functioning well before this pandemic started may find themselves now struggling even more, may find their disease progressing, as they are at home isolated," she explained.

Ackley, who is also a substance abuse counselor, says his beloved dog and outdoor exercise has helped him stay on track.

"We’re pushing ourselves out to do a recovery bike club at least two to three times a week so that we can connect with one another and still do the social distance thing," said Ackley.

As Burr says even in a pandemic, help is still available.

"It is never too soon and it’s never too late to get help," she added.