Diary of recovering addict during lockdown

It’s 9am. On a Tuesday. I think.

Since the Lockdown

Time has kind of gelled together and it’s starting to get a bit fuzzy. I’m sitting on a chair facing the front lawn and watching my family chat. There’s tension in the house and it’s not about me for once. There’s a distinct mood floating around and it’s the same mood I had when I first began my journey to sobriety. addict during lockdownThat’s right folks, I am a recovering alcoholic, an addict during lockdown and I’m about to tell you about the very peculiar things I have noticed during our National Lockdown.

I bet my bottom dollar (and yes I am down to that thanks to alcohol) that you are going to have a few “me too” and “No ways!” moments along the way.

So here’s the thing

About being a recovering addict during lockdown, booze, drugs, pain meds, sex, whatever your ‘poison’ may have been; it’s not very apparent to you as the user/addict, that you have an addiction. I know, that’s incredibly profound right? Seriously though, it’s not. I remember days where I would sit at work pissed out of my brains thinking I was as sober as everyone else in the room. Which I wasn’t. I was a drunk. I smelt like it, I looked like it and I acted like it. That’s probably the reason I was suspended, the first three times. It’s also the reason I am recovering. My colleagues knew that (from the little they had read about it) that addiction is a disease, and who boots a guy because of a disease, right?

How’s that even remotely relevant to now I hear you mutter?

Point One  – of an addict during lockdown

Well, as I sit here, with my coffee in hand, watching everyone get into each other’s face it dawned upon me; they are going through withdrawals! And then it dawned on me even more that some of those arguments and grumpy attitude changes are because there is no alcohol in the house. We didn’t stock up (I say we because it’s a family of around 12 people living together on a big piece of land). So that’s one thing – the desperate need by the body to get what its craving – and when it can’t get it, to lash out. Definitely my uncle. He says he is a casual drinker and now, stuck at home, that casual drinking may actually be a bit more serious than he thought.

Second point – of an addict during lockdown

Everyone’s lost control.

Not like in a crazy, “Lord of the Flies” kind of way, but the lockdown has taken away any control over everyday routine and life, and everyone’s kind of freaking out about it. I know this because I was there; and I was told that control matters, sober or not – and the lack of it affects us all, again, sober, or not.

Third point – of an addict during lockdown

My family seem to think this lockdown has led to them losing out on life and taking away their chances of a good life. Sound familiar? Guess what, that’s exactly what an addiction does. I know, crazy similarities! The way I got through that was to realise that there is a better life, another door to open and another shot at this short thing we call life, but it has to be on my terms, my sober terms.


Fourth point – of an addict during lockdown

I drank because of stress, because I was unhappy and it brought happiness. Well, I thought it did. It wasn’t really; it was more of a cloak around me that only I knew was there. Everyone else could see I was sick; I was drunk, I was even unhappier than before. Now I see my family together, arguing how they are unhappy, how they are stuck, but let me tell you something; that’s the most they have spoken to one another in years!
Oh, just before I carry on, I want to remind you that I am not comparing the lockdown to addiction, but rather the epiphanies I have had while under lockdown, as a recovering addict.


Fifth point – of an addict during lockdown

There was always a reason to go out for a beer, for a jol, for that braai.

Now, everyone is saying those amazing times are so missed. WHILE THEY SIT AND RECONNECT to each other as a family. Alcoholics, and addicts as a whole, in my experience always try validating a good time and the taking of a substance, and removing it means removing the good times. Ridiculous argument but hey, don’t shoot the messenger!

So those are some of the similarities/epiphanies I have had while on lockdown.

There are some learnings I have also had (it’s not all doom and gloom you know). Here are some key out takes from an addict during lockdown that maybe you could use/think about and share:

  • If you want to give drinking a break, now’s the ideal time. With a ban on alcohol sales during the lockdown you have a chance to really focus on your health, your family and besides, you can quote our Minister of Police about drinking if anyone offers you a drink!
  • “No thanks, no booze during lockdown for me, it’s the law,” is a firm favourite of mine.
  • Focus on family. I cannot stress this enough. Sobriety has revealed the one thing that I will never ever doubt again, there are people who want to see you win, who want you sober and in their lives, family. Connect. Use Zoom, WhatsApp calls, email. Connect with family and friends during the lockdown.
  • Like sobriety, schedule and regime can help, so make one! Sticking to a daily plan when the world is upside down not only brings balance to you, it restores some order and can really benefit your home. Like Addiction, chaos is the usual outcome of panic and fear, so don’t let that demon in!
  • Work out. Work the mind, work the body, and work the soul. Go for a walk and explore every corner of your home, build a tent inside your lounge and be present. Alcohol took away my sense of presence, and so too can a national pandemic, so make sure you have what it takes to stay in the present by being there and doing the things that evacuate the negative thoughts and bring in the positive.
  • Talk to people about how you are feeling. An addict is the only person who can stop being addicted to a drug (friends help but the choice is the addicts!) and talking about it is a key to the door. Ditto when it comes to overcoming fear, sadness and the unknown.

Okay I am done, but I want to leave you with one last thought.

There are addicts (both recovering and trying to recover) all across the planet right now, stuck in the same situation as the rest of the world, desperate for a helping hand. What we do, and how we do it can change the world, and help those who don’t have the strength right now to get through it alone. Stay safe and love one another.

Regards -from an addict during lockdown

The coffee drinker 😉


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