This isn’t a newsletter about recovery it’s a newsletter about addiction to be clear. Part of that is being in recovery and part of that is doing the exact opposite.
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I was curious about how people who are sober have been handling the isolation and lack of traditional resources available under the quarantine and the outsized stressors all around us right now but also about how people who are decidedly not sober have gone too far in the other direction which may or may not apply to me personally at this time. I asked a few dozen to share their stories of continuing hope or deepening despair which you can read below.
The other day I wrote this in here:
The idea of being isolated and stuck at home and unable to see anyone for weeks more never mind months more seems so suffocating that if I let myself envision it I feel like I’m going to collapse. So instead what I’m trying to do is think about it one day at a time as the folks in the program say. You don’t have to survive and wait out the entirety of this thing all at once right now all you have to do is make it through today. Tomorrow will probably be the same shit and the day after that too but tomorrow isn’t your problem at the moment. Make it through today for me will you?
And I still think that right now at this moment but there will come an hour or two every day now where I lose my grasp on that and think what is the point fuck this and fuck me and fuck everything I simply cannot do this. Then I’ll remember I can. Then I’ll forget again.
I haven’t been applying that one day thinking to not-drinking through this because I don’t want to.
Here’s another thing I wrote in here last week. If you’ve already read this stuff you can skip it but I feel like there will be a lot of new readers in here for this one who aren’t aware of my whole deal.
I don’t mean this in the twee haha isn’t this cute way that you see a lot online now from people who have long worked from home but it finally struck me yesterday which I guess would be about day five of our quarantine that my life hasn’t changed much. The ambient dread has increased a certain degree but that was always there. The disgust at the holes in our social safety net being exposed has increased a certain degree but that too was always there. Sitting inside letting the news wash over me in waves alternately dull and pummeling or sharp and piercing like Alex from the droogs is something I’m accustomed to. A sort of heightened hopelessness jockeying with brief flashes of optimism is familiar to me. I can’t go to the pool anymore to swim but I can plan my day around an afternoon run which is now my one reason to leave the house. Yesterday for about ten minutes in the middle of running I forgot about the world and it was the most peaceful ten minutes I’ve had in a week or more. … The point is the general trajectory of each day for me now is a ramping up to the hour that I have deemed socially acceptable to pour myself a drink and that’s pretty much what life has been for the past year or two anyway. Nothing else really matters after that. All this shit isn’t my problem I think.
So no I don’t think it’s freelancers or whoever that are prepared for all this it’s the addicts and the cripplingly depressed. I’m reminded of the film Melancholia in which depression is a sort of super power at the end of the world.
I don’t know maybe that’s all dog shit and dumb and harmful to think. I don’t know anything and as I typically say in here please do not look to me as a model of behavior of any kind.
Before this all started I had been having a pretty decent run of taking time off from drinking for a few days every week and really relishing it. I would look forward to that shit like fuck yeah tonight I am going to relax and make a nice dinner and read a damn book before bed and I can’t wait! Then there would be bad days where the instant I woke up I’d say ah goddammit and the only thing I could look forward to was when I would get to go back to bed.
In any case watching this all unfold hasn’t exactly been great for someone who already had a tenuous grasp on staying alive under normal circumstances. As my favorite piece of shit racist singer once said “When I'm lying in my bed I think about life and I think about death and neither one particularly appeals to me.”
Mostly my reasons for enjoying the not-drinking times was because I was sick of feeling tired all the time and being unproductive with work and gaining weight and being a real fucking asshole when I drink and all the usual shit but now that we’ve basically lived inside for like twelve days does any of that matter at the moment?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
It’s hard to think clearly right now since Michelle is having a video meeting with her third graders across the room. She told me to please try not to blast a huge fart in the middle of it and it’s hard because my guts are fucked right now.
I don’t know.
Ok here’s what people told me. The rest of them are anonymous but this first one is from A.J. from the Small Bow a great newsletter that actually is about recovery and for which I wrote an essay about drinking that ended up in my book.
Here’s a list of online Los Angeles AA meetings and a bunch of options for New York and some services for online and phone meetings through Recovery Dharma A.J. and others passed along in case you want to look into them.
I am hanging in. I have a pretty rigorous recovery program so I'm locked into that. Plus, I'm doing the Zoom AA and Recovery Dharma meetings and talking to People Like Me every single day. As much as I'd love to be blacked out right now, that's no longer an option for me and I'm doing my best to make this as beautiful and tolerable for my family and everyone else around me.
I work in healthcare and this whole thing has been a shitstorm. I had given up drinking (during the week) for Lent. I’m not very religious, but figured it gives me a reason to give something up for a period. Well anyway, since 3/13 when we tested our first positive case, I’ve been drinking a decent amount each day. It just seems like we are in a nightmare, so why not just drink when I’m not working?
I’m just waiting for normalcy to return so I can go back to the gym and sleep normal again. That’s the part of losing the routine that sucks the most and leads directly to the drinking. If I can go to the gym after work I don’t really have the urge to drink. Add no gym and stress at work and it amplifies the urge.
I just started going to AA meetings in January/February, but once the closings started happening, the meetings got cancelled. I don't want to look into Zoom online meetings because they're not anonymous (data tracking), and my family would be around hearing them. Thankfully the liquor store is still open. I usually buy a few nips of vodka or tequila. I tell myself it kills the virus, in case I have it. Anyway it's been difficult obviously and my partner is upset about it. Hoping things get better everywhere. No gyms and cold/windy weather make the physical activity difficult. I think I'm getting into a cycle but hopefully I can replace those negative thoughts with work.
Eight years of sobriety still intact. The lack of in person meetings has been rough, but the daily grind has changed so drastically that any theoretical “triggers” pale in comparison.
I had been in a work run prior to the world shutting down. Roughly 300 hours in three weeks at a national news bureau. No time to even hit meetings in the first place. By the time the edict came down to reduce crews to skeleton levels, it was 3/13. I’d spent the last three nights in a hotel room. My sponsor had actually died somewhere in the midst of it all, and I couldn’t attend his funeral because, well, we were covering the virus.
So I emerged from all of this in desperate need to reconnect to the program...and my home group had been closed due to the virus. I found one group still open, and it was their last in person meeting before they shut down.
It was very “Rick waking up in The Walking Dead pilot” vibes. Only I’d been awake for it all and didn’t know the world had ended just a few miles away. So while everyone else is in a state of stir crazy isolation, I spent the last week with my wife. She drinks, and it doesn’t matter. But it’s the most I’ve seen her since we started dating, honestly. Walks in empty parks, gardening, house chores, board games, and reconnecting. Everyone else seems to be going mad and all I’ve done is heal for the last week.
A pandemic is the best thing that ever happened to my emotional sobriety. “Let the tanks roll in,” I ended up saying to her. “We’ve got serenity right here.”
Wednesday this week is four months of sobriety for me. After some rough going early on, I had settled into a pretty good rhythm with it, finding ways to fill my evenings without drinking, thankful for each day without a hangover. Just lately, though, the little bug is back, gnawing at the back of my brain in the late afternoon. Maybe because I fear just how shitty the news is about to get here in North America starting this week. I never really got the "drink your sorrows away" thing. Momentarily, maybe, but drinking just helps that shit stack up in my experience. The freedom I found in drinking was purely nihilistic. I just didn't care if I died. Gotta say, that would be a pretty convenient worldview right about now.
I’ve been clean (not sober) from heroin for 12 years and this week is a fucking test but also not. I’ve been thinking about death and all my friends who have died from the opioid epidemic. The apocalyptic mentality of “fuck it I’m gonna have a party” is not a good mindset for an addict. I think these weeks have been a huge opportunity for relapse for a lot of issues, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, etc. People are alone with their thoughts and demons with few distractions. A lot of people are like oh my god I hope I don’t get fat this week! And I’m like bitch people are dying fuck you. (I have an eating disorder by the way).
I’ve been loosely applying 12 step philosophy to social distancing. There’s something in the big book about checking your motives for going out to a bar and it’s basically like “only if you have a legitimate reason for being there” like if you’re seeing a band or helping a friend or something. When I’m restless and want to go out in public this week, I’m like, “Is this essential? Do I have a legitimate reason to go to the store? Or am I just bored?”
I’m super-private about it but if it might help anyone, here’s my POV: Sobriety is hard enough to maintain under non-pandemic conditions. It’s turned up to “Expert Mode” now. Everyone I see on social media is talking about turning to drinking heavily. I hope most of them are joking. I know some aren’t. Me, I’ve been starting to try online meetings the last few days. Still going crazy, but a lot less than I would have. One guy was talking about being asked when he was first getting sober what he’d do if it was the post-apocalypse and everyone he loved was gone. He said he thought about it and decided he still wouldn’t drink because he didn’t want to die an alcoholic death. That helped! Can’t control too much right now, but I can fight to avoid that version of the end, anyway.
Doing a one day on, one day off thing with drinking during a strict quarantine since last Saturday. But oh boy have those on days been on. We usually “go out" two days a week. We're both musicians and artists and bar lovers with pretty serious day jobs. I think the big difference is you can't pretend it's about the show or about visiting your bartender buddy, or about "getting some apps" or whatever now, the sort of games we all play with our normal consumption. Now it's like "today is my drinking day." That's the universal "we." I don't think my wife and I are any more deluded than the rest of us. We had a "brunch" yesterday where we video conferenced a friend, then 4 hours later it was still happening with like 10 different households. And everyone was drinking. So in one way it's heartening. In another way, 15 or so 40 somethings were drinking in their homes looking at their computers. You can take the generous view, or the Orwellian. Both are sort of true. Felt good, though.
I’ve honestly never felt so connected with my sober community or at least in a long time. Maybe it’s because we are all usually so busy with our everyday lives or because we know we’re so isolated so we are making more of an effort to stay in touch, but I join Zoom AA meetings every day and also have Zoom “get togethers” with my AA women friends at least every other day. Saturday night we had a “happier hour” and just hung out and chatted for a while on Zoom and we’re trying to organize a game night tonight. It makes such a difference staying connected to my AA community this way so that we can talk about what we’re feeling and going through during this time without feeling judged or like we’re “crazy” or not staying “positive” enough. Only fellow alcoholics understand the way our minds can start to spin and then start rationalizing taking a drink since these are extraordinary times.
I saw someone post yesterday, “It’s not a relapse if it happens under quarantine.” I’m almost entirely sure that was a joke, but the thing about alcohol is that it’s cunning, baffling and powerful and can trick us into having thoughts like that and then acting on them. When AA first began, there were only a scattering of meetings across the country so all that most people had was the AA literature and a phone, so I keep reminding myself of that especially when there are people who continuously say that we can’t stay sober without in person meetings and are still meeting up despite all of the warnings and orders that keep getting made. It drives me crazy. Someone said to me the other day that alcohol will kill us before this virus will and that may be true for some but I strongly believe that we are truly fortunate in that we live in an age where we are able to stay connected while staying safe so that neither will kill us.
When I started seeing that the liquor stores were closing, I honestly have never been so grateful to be sober. I remember the panic that would arise when it was a snow day and it would be impossible to get there. Yes, you can still get beer and wine at grocery stores, but I was the type of alcoholic that beer and wine weren’t enough for. So I’m just truly grateful that I don’t have to worry about that today when there are enough things to already be worried about.
I dove back into the bottle pretty good about a week ago. Spent the last three days getting my shit back together. It didn't help not to be able to go to the gym or have to go to work. My sleep is still all fucked. I haven't had more than a couple of hours in days now, and not really much of an appetite to speak of either, eating like one small meal per day. I haven't left the house since...Thursday, except to check the mail or take out the trash.
People keep asking me to meet them for bike rides or walks or whatever, but I haven't really had an interest in seeing anyone though, or talking to anyone, or texting. I’m hoping the fact that I slept and ate means I'll feel up to taking a bike ride tomorrow. I’m not sure why people don't understand that it's a solo activity. That’s one of the biggest reasons I enjoy it so much is because I can shut my head up for a little bit and watch the landscape pass by as I think about the path ahead, shifting, lights, cars, etc.
I’ve been sober 4 ½ years. I was homeless twice in Boston and penniless multiple times, mostly from “soft” drugs like weed and mushrooms and some pills. But I just finished undergrad, in grad school now, and working on two books to be published this year. This has all actually been the opposite of triggering. It has really put an acuteness on time and mortality more than ever; crazy visions of “The Road” and end of times society in worst-case scenarios, so I’ve tried (or been forced) to focus on being as clear and concise as ever given the real threat. It’s probably individual to me only but it’s made me run even farther from past vices as escapes and embrace the totality of this moment every moment.
I’ve been sober since last April. I’m continuing to stay sober through this chaos. Has this been triggering? Yes and no. I have to be very conscious of using the strategies I’ve developed over the past year to keep myself from falling into the abyss emotionally, which brings me much closer to a relapse. So there are less situations to navigate (I’m a bartender in recovery which can seem like an oxymoron to some) but there is a lot more idle time which can plunge me into anxiety and stress induced depression. If I was in earlier sobriety I imagine it being much more difficult. Meetings are invaluable for many people and without that option it’s concerning to think about those who might relapse.
I've had a weird relationship with sobriety over the last few years. I was having some "problems" with them and I wanted to examine my relationship with substances, so I went alcohol-free in 2018 and marijuana-free in 2019. Both with an end date so that it wouldn't seem impossible, but also because I thought they both contributed something to my life and I didn't want them to be out of it forever. I just gave up alcohol again, ostensibly for Lent (I'm what you might call a "cultural Catholic") but that decision was right before the virus scare started in earnest. I slipped up this last Friday because 75% of my company was laid off, so I shared a bottle of champagne I had laying around with a couple coworkers for a "furloughed for lack of work party." We should have been social distancing, whoops.
I see people getting bottles of wine at the grocery store and a lot of bars in DC are selling big growlers of cocktails-to-go out front now that they can't have people inside, and part of me misses it, for sure. I'd like to just anaesthetize myself, who wouldn't? But I had a real visceral reaction the other day when I thought I was feeling some early symptoms of the virus. I went home and took the last little bit of weed I had left, crumpled it in my fist, and threw it into my yard. Partly because who wants to smoke when you may have a respiratory infection (j/k I did that shit every time I had a cold and I still smoked cigs) but it was mostly like a revelation. If this is the end of my life, if this is the end of the world, I want it to blaze into my central nervous system fully firing. This pain, this fear, the tragedy, horror, and villainy we're all seeing and all about to see, this is life unmediated. This is what the mechanism of the body was designed to encounter, and I don't want to dilute that experience with substances.
If I make it through, ironically, I think it will be harder to stay sober when we go back to "normal" than it is right now, when I'm looking for a distraction from boredom rather than relief from existential dread. What I am addicted to now is Twitter. I want to just put my phone down and paint and write and listen to spring coming awake outside my window, but it feels simultaneously unbearable and irresponsible. Like it's important that I, personally, know all of the truly evil shit that Senate Republicans are doing right now. Entire days are slipping away, and again, maybe some of the last ones I or any of us will have, and I barely do anything until I notice it's 5:00 and wasn't I going to write something for myself today? That's the harder thing. Twitter seems like the only escape from the isolation, but it's drastically limiting the scope of this thing I'm calling my life.
My homegroup went to Zoom almost immediately. We usually average 40-50 people in person meetings. We had 52 people join via Zoom the first meeting! We also had quite a few guys join who had moved away but now obviously can participate again since we’re online. It was so successful we decided to add a second night per week. Still early so we’ll see how it goes but so far so good. Fortunately for us we have a pretty strong cadre of homegroup members who took a lot of initiative. We're also located in Cambridge, MA so have previously had access to a lot of meetings locally and have built good networks that we were able to blast our Zoom info out to. I realize all of that isn't easy to replicate, especially depending on length of sobriety, location, etc. But if people do have access to AA networks to definitely make use of them.
I wasn't able to get sober on my own here in Spain. Booze and weed are too easy to come by as a working comic. But now that the country's locked down in what is essentially a police state I find that I do have the inner strength to white knuckle this. Well, my inner strength and the fact it's basically a $700 fine to leave the apartment.
You can still pick up beer with your groceries and probably find liquor at the right bodega. it's just way harder. And since my income went to $0 with the cancelation of events I can't afford it. Weed's my real addiction and I've been trying to quit for years. It's basically legal here, but the dispensaries are all shut down.
This might sound a bit arrogant, but maintaining sobriety while cooped up hasn't been as bad as I thought. I work in the music/live events/restaurant industry, so it wasn't hard to see this all coming after the first shows started getting canceled. When I got the official notice of my layoff last saturday, March 14, I definitely said to myself "You’re not going to drink." I'm weirdly used to being by myself and didn't take the traditional 12-step program approach to getting sober. By and large I've done it pretty alone with close support from my friends, family, and immediate community. That's not to say it doesn't weigh on me more right now as I'm A) extremely antsy, B) have no regular income while I wait for unemployment and look for freelance/remote work, and C) have no idea how long this is going to last. Getting into a good routine, with a few days of "ah fuck this i'm going to eat cheetos and watch the West Wing", has been helpful.
Alcohol is the only thing I have to tamp down the anxiety. The days don’t seem to change from one to the next. And I am living with a spouse who has early stage dementia so getting him to remember to do the basic hygiene things takes repetition. Every time he heads for the door I have to remind him he can’t go anywhere. When he spools off ten paper towels off our one remaining roll, I have to tell him to stop or he won’t. Then he has an attitude with me because he thinks I’m being a pain in his ass because he forgets WHY I’m doing all these things. He is stuck in a loop of blaming me for everything.
Your question about drinking in the pandemic struck a chord in me, figured I'd share. I’ve always been a borderline problem drinker for most of college, but it was never enough of a problem to really do anything. Mostly I would joke about it like “haha it’s in my genes what am I gonna do? I’m such a writer lol.” The past couple months I've crossed the borderline and have been drinking every day for a hot minute. Sometimes like two bottles of wine to myself, once in a while more. It’s not great and I know that so I decided I was going to take a two week clean break. Then this awesome pandemic hit, and now I've already reneged on my promises to myself like three separate times.
I think a break from the sauce would do me good, but being mostly alone in one place with little to do makes that unconscionably difficult. I’m becoming a master of rationalization. “Well one more won’t matter in the long run. The world is ending anyway haha.” It’s making me feel totally helpless. Alas. It’s in my genes. I’m such a writer. What are you gonna do?
If you're gonna write about sobriety during This Hell World Specifically you can talk about how I'm getting high every day before the coke dealer shuts down for the inevitable mandatory quarantine lol. What's the point of trying to be sober when it's possible every day that the supply will be inaccessible and sobriety will be imposed anyways? Why rush it? Also it's not like a stockpile is a good idea.
I'm smoking about as much pot as usual, but I'm finding myself really struggling not to smoke during the day while working from home. I also keep backsliding and buying cigarettes. I do not handle this much idle time well. I've felt that way for a while. I think I'm just getting a lot of time to think about it and it's making me anxious, which is destroying my productivity and keeping me from really concentrating on anything. It's maddening.
I'm sticking with the isolation, but I'm a bit of an extrovert and this isolation is just tough on me. It's tough knowing there's a half ounce of something that will make me feel a little better, but I can't touch it because I'm working.
Am I staying strong or has it been hard? A little of column A and B. I got dumped in January. It's been very rough, but at least I had my amazing job, my pups, rock and roll, and friends.
And now...oof. My advice would be just embrace everything that you're feeling and going through because running from it brought you to an even darker place.
I stopped drinking over three years ago. This situation is not really that hard for me because I was a loner-drinker who’d try to finish a chapter before finishing the bottle. I’m able to remain sober because there’s no upside to making myself sick before a horrific sickness gets ahold of me. I also cannot fall apart and have my loved ones worry about me while they try to get themselves through this. Isolation is essential for self-exploration. I use it to make peace with old pains.
I'm a sober Bartender, clean from booze and drugs for 31 years, unless you count coffee and cigarettes which make me still kind of a junkie, I guess. I've been out of work since March 11. People who work in hospitality are used to being on their feet 8-12 hours a day running around. Our brains move just as fast, constantly bombarded with thoughts. Staying busy has always been a coping mechanism for me and my sobriety and in the early years, a way of avoiding having to deal with the much larger issues attached to my self-destructive behavior.
Booze is loaded with sugar. This is why AA meetings usually offer donuts. When I feel like I'm on the edge, right on the verge of snapping, anxiety through the roof, and ready to punch a wall...Honey Bun! You know the one with the thick white icing? At your local convenience store? Krispy Kreme, Tasty Cakes, Mrs. Freshley's, Little Debbie's, Hostess...my best friends. I'm high strung and a ball of nervous energy on the daily to begin with. With each passing day of this social isolation, my triggers get worse.
I’m going out for a walk now and I will do everything in my power to not make a beeline into the 7-11. I subscribe to this YouTube channel...Soft White Underbelly. It's a series of interviews with addicts. You should check it out.
I’ve been sober since January 18, 2014 and before that I was a vicious alcoholic and heroin addict. Right as this whole pandemic/quarantine started, I moved into an apartment by myself, having gone through a breakup, and then they announced a state of emergency. I work two jobs, one as a touring musician, and one as a sheet metal fabricator, and both of my jobs have been shut down. All shows have been cancelled, all our job sites were shut down. Furthermore, as a person in recovery, to stay sober, I utilize 12-step groups. For the last 2 weeks, since they shut down gatherings of 10 or more, all in person 12-step meetings have also been effectively cancelled, so this required some creativity on my groups part.
We’ve established video-conferencing meetings and teleconference so we’re all able to attend if we can. I frequently spend my days this past week talking to people who want to get sober but are having a hard time in the current state of things and just trying to do the things I was taught to do when I was new and had no clue how to stay sober. It’s been an emotionally trying time, for sure. I have like, the bare minimum of money coming in, I’m alone in my house, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to get back to working and doing what I love. But I have faith and hope that we’ll come out the other side of this better for it and I just stick to my routine: trust that the universe has a plan for me, keep busy and try to help another person.
I've been smoking a lot more lately. I prefer to vape but I can't get any cartridges without driving to DC. I bought a bunch of edibles in case I get the virus and can't smoke/vape for a while. I don't really have a problem with alcohol unless I run out of cannabis. I was not doing great before the virus took off, so it kinda normalized what I was already feeling, if that makes any sense. But it also normalized the increased consumption. So I'm just trying to get back to a moderate level. I self-medicate with cannabis so it's a balance not to spill over into "abuse.”
How is everyone’s drinking you ask? Well, both good, and not so good. For a long time I made it a policy not to drink at home. I gave myself permission to go out on scheduled nights, Wednesdays in particular, to go drink beer and be anti-socially social. When this thing started to hit, even before the bars closed, I had to make a decision about whether or not I was going to drink at home. Well it wasn’t really much of a decision to be honest, but it still hurt to pick off that scab because I had been feeling good about taking some kind of responsibility not to be a lush.
As of right now, I’m not drinking every day. And I’m not drinking during regular daytime hours. I’m also trying not to drink more in quantity than I would when I’m drinking under usual circumstances. The fact that I’m still working helps a little. Even on the days that I’m home, I’m trying to keep a fairly regular schedule as far as getting out of bed, getting a shower, etc. to maintain some kind of structure.
If I become unable to get my antidepressants though then all bets are off ha ha. My bottom line coping skills, when I’ve exhausted all the healthy ones, are drinking, sleeping, and fucking. I live alone right now, plus my chronic insomnia seems to be coming out of remission so you can see where that leaves my options. It’s kind of funny about the depression thing though. I remember telling someone last month that I didn’t understand how normal people were still getting out of bed every day. I’ve been in treatment for major depressive disorder since my young 20s, but I could’ve been diagnosed by the time I was 14 if my family believed in psychiatry. I’m 44 right now. I have spent more than half of my life forcing myself to get out of bed on a regular basis to try to participate in life even though I thought everything was fucked up and pointless. Who knew all those years of training would pay off!
The biggest change for me with the no bars thing is that a lot of my reliable socialization was with the bartenders, servers, and kitchen staff down at my local tap room. Early last week I did manage to get Venmo information for several of the staff who have taken care of me over the last couple years and I did virtual happy hour tips last Wednesday. I figured out about how much I would spend there on a good week and just divided it up. It was nice to see other people doing similar things. I want to make it a semi-regular thing. I have the luxury of doing this since I am still working and still getting paid. It doesn’t help with the feeling of isolation, of course, but it helps me worry about them a little less.
And now, since it’s after 5 o’clock, I’m going to go sit on my balcony and drink a beer. I don’t usually drink on the weekends, but I think you can agree that circumstances are unusual right now.
I’ve been sober for 1 year 6 months and 9 days. The past two weeks have been the hardest two weeks of my sobriety. I'm managing. But the mechanisms I have in place (journaling, meditation) have also fallen apart. This entire coronavirus thing has just utterly consumed me. I see wine or whiskey on a screen and salivate. I haven't tried [any online meetings], and I know I should. I never went to meetings IRL because like many I had a hard time with the “god thing.” I think I’m going to look into finding a secular meeting of some sort. I think what the challenging part has been is losing my restaurant job/not being able to find a job because of the virus/ plus the possibility of my summer seasonal job completely getting fucked up.
It just feels like once everything was starting to feel in order it just did a total 180. I took a long, much needed break from reporting/writing/journalism to keep me sane and try to pay less attention to the bad shit it in the world. I know i’ll be fine, and at the end of the day I’m safe, and I just keep telling myself that. Small Bow is lovely.
I'm a guy whose drinking was bad and definitely got worse since I started social distancing and staying home. I'd say for the past few years I definitely drank every night, but you know, you don't really count it unless you get drunk and feel hungover in the morning (which is dumb and totally incorrect). But yeah, I'd say it sort of got bad during the holidays this year, like kind of almost a two month bender where I would say I was getting pretty drunk almost every night. So I conscientiously started the year like "Ok, I need to start to string together days where I don't have a single drink" and so like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday I’d try to go 2 out of 3 or sometimes 3 in a row where I wouldn't drink at all. I mean not much, but it felt like progress haha. But since corona, basically I can't not get drunk. If I have a single drink, I’m getting drunk and waking up the next day hungover. There's no middle ground. It sucks because it fucks with my anxiety where I'll spend the next day convinced I have corona because I'm dehydrated and have a headache.
But it’s hard. I’m scared Boston is gonna close all the liquor stores for 10 months or whatever, so I stock up and now I have the most booze ever at one time in my place, which is one of the ways I’d control my drinking, just not having it available to me.
I’m hoping things get more normal as the weeks go by. Even now you see people be like "airport rules! do whatever you want" or whatever, aand it's like, to me that means getting very drunk before 11 am, not just like having a glass of wine and watching Love is Blind.
I think people will start treating it less like "isn't this a crazy moment we live in!" and more of like "ok this is my life for the foreseeable future” soon. I called my buddy up yesterday and he had already had 8 beers by like 4 pm. That’s not sustainable.
I’m keeping sober. Part of navigating alcoholism is it's expensive and a lot of work. You have to buy the booze, develop a route so you're not at the same store too often, and dispose of the bottles. Plus it’s $30-$50 a day. Add in the extra calories when you can't go outside...
I was diagnosed with social anxiety related to high-functioning autism pretty late in life. I started drinking socially when I was 16, and found that even 1-2 drinks was enough to prevent panic attacks that I otherwise suffer if I’m around more than 2-3 people sober. As I’ve gotten older, though, especially being around the music scene, it’s regularly 4-5 drinks in a night which for a 110lb girl who has a family history of severe liver disease is pretty significant.
Granted I’m not an alcoholic, I never drink at home alone or during the days and used to not go out often. I did have to start a business where I could get away from people. I’ve been a dog walker for 8 years. So I’ve ramped up how much I go out at night, which has increased the amount I drink. It’s gotten up to 2-3 times a week on the norm.
So yeah, this last couple of weeks I haven’t gone out in any kind of large social situation and haven’t touched more than a glass of wine the whole time. It was shockingly easily, scarily easy. Get rid of the source of anxiety, no need for the “medication.” No more hangovers, so I can actually do a lot more with my day. I’ve been doing yoga in the mornings, as opposed to stumbling around and stubbing my toes. I can sleep through a whole night instead of waking every two hours promising myself I’m never going to drink again, knowing I’m lying. I’m not paranoid about my pancreas exploding every time I feel an abdominal pain.
This time has also made me realize who in my life is actually important; when I’m staring at my phone thinking “I should check in on...” 80% of the people I know didn’t come to mind. That’s clarifying in a “my life is half gone, or more, and I think maybe I’m wasting it with all these people” kind of a way.
The only anxiety I’m starting to feel now is about when (if) things go back to normal. With nothing going on right now, there’s no Fear Of Missing Out pulling at my id, so I’m quite happy to stay at home and start all the wonderful hyper-focus projects that Aspergersy people like me love. I’ve learned how to crochet, picked up my cello, wrote 4 chapters of a new book, did my taxes, and started reading some of the pile of books I’ve been wanting to read for years. But once stuff starts up again, am I going to revert back to social drinking mode, going out 3-4 nights a week? Or can I find a balance and resist much of the FOMO now that this quarantine has opened my eyes a bit? I don’t actually need many of the social associations I’ve filled my life with to be happy.
Both being in the city and on social media has put such a focus on quantity and not quality in social interactions and it’s probably literally killing me via my liver, and for years I thought it was worth it because I thought despite the anxiety I did love being out and about.
But now, totally sober, I’m thinking I was wrong and that I need to empty out the social cellar. Just connect to the people I love and maybe not avoid but certainly not be as involved with the people I don’t. Society should be a backdrop to the things and people that are truly important to me. That thought has kept me going through this. I’m going to try and turn this into a positive turning point. As long as I can resist the FOMO in the future.
I've been sober almost two years. This is really one of the first times I've been tempted to drink. I'm not. I know it makes my life worse and not better. But I guarantee there are those who will back pedal and start drinking again.
In my friends group chat, they're all talking about making sure they have enough wine on hand to get them through. And in the sober space, everyone's doing meetings and free online stuff and blah blah. It's overwhelming and I can't decide what if any of them to be a part of. I mostly get overwhelmed and don't add any of their support. I'm just taking it one day at a time as they say... It was interesting that New York considered liquor stores as essential and kept them open. Probably think too many alcoholics would die from withdrawals if they closed them all.
I don’t really drink, but I’m a drug addict. But I have found a way to be a functioning one. I used to do a lot of cocaine, but I realized it was gonna kill me so I convinced some doctor I have ADD (which I have because I smoke weed or eat weed daily) so I have a prescription for amphetamines. I say amphetamines and not Adderall because people don’t normally think amphetamines when they hear Adderall. Adderall is just speed. I figured pharmaceutical speed is better for me than cocaine that has been stepped on 5 times by the time it gets to me in Boston.
I am prescribed 25mg a day. I am turning 40 in 2 weeks and have been thinking for a while it would be a good time to wean myself off the amphetamines. So last Friday, 10 days ago, my wife and I started self imposed quarantine as she had possibly come into contact with someone who tested positive and was at the Biogen conference. A few days went by of me doing 10 mg instead of my normal 25mg. It felt really good to not do so much, my body and mind felt more relaxed. I slept better. Tried not to smoke, or in this case, vape any weed, but that has been a total losing battle. Then on the fifth day I was bored and wanted to accomplish things and be creative so I ended up taking 40mg of amphetamines, which is a lot for me and most people. So after not leaving the house except to walk the dog, last night I drove to a house to buy some ketamine. I sent the dealer money via and Venmo and asked the dude to leave it in his mailbox so I wouldn’t have to come in contact with him. He did. My concern then was that the envelope and ketamine were now contaminated with coronavirus. I just imagined the dealer breathing over it while he was bagging it up and coronavirus dropping on the ketamine powder. So I put on latex gloves, jump out of the car and get the envelope out of the mailbox and put it immediately into a large ziplock bag where it will stay for the next 10 days in case it’s been contaminated. You can be sure that I’ll be breaking it open on day 10.
I’m still hoping I can use this time to wean myself off of amphetamines or at the very least get myself down to only 10mg a day instead of 25mg. I finished my only weed vape cartridge yesterday which I’m glad about cause I don’t wanna inhale anything anymore to give my lungs a fighting chance if I get the virus. I do not remember the last day I went with no weed or speed. I’d like to change that.