Recovery in 2020: Five Lessons Learned

As the unprecedented year of 2020 comes to a close, people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction can take away lessons learned and apply them to a stronger 2021. As we look forward to the promise of a new year and hopefully an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the perfect time to reflect on how the events of 2020 can inform and strengthen sobriety moving forward.

Stay Connected

In recovery, we learn that community is one of our strongest assets. We recognize that we cannot fight addiction alone, we need a support system and we need to provide support for others in recovery. This year, we learned the importance of leveraging technology to stay connected to our communities, our families — a virtual presence counts. We learned that helping others and being there for those we care about can take on a variety of forms — in person, socially distanced, online, on the phone. However 2021 unfolds, we know we must continue connecting, communicating and caring.  

Embrace the Unpredictable

The challenges of 2020 seemed to come at us one after another, each disrupting every aspect of our lives. The plans we made, the goals we had for the year; even daily routines, jobs and income, our health and the health of our family and friends — all of it was thrown into disarray. The important lessons learned in the unpredictability of 2020 are that embracing change, accepting disruption and adjusting intentionally are essential to a fulfilling life in any year.    

Focus on Whole Health

One of the key lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of holistic health — caring for the mind, body and spirit. Beyond the basics like washing your hands and wearing a mask to stay safe, the year 2020 put a huge emphasis on medical and mental health. Many have confronted these challenges by getting in shape, eating healthy and practicing meditation. We learned many of the coping skills we practice in recovery also help us manage our anxiety about the pandemic by taking care of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Appreciate the Small Stuff

Appreciating the little things in the midst of unprecedented challenges is an essential takeaway from 2020. So many of us have spent most of the year in our homes with the opportunity to appreciate those small but still special moments with the people we share our lives with. Our jam-packed schedules suddenly became open agendas, with the opportunity to FaceTime with old friends, to clean out the clutter, to teach the dog new tricks, to master a new skill that has always been on our to-do list. One thing 2020 did give us was the time and space to appreciate the small stuff with the big stuff paused by COVID-19.

Practice Grace

This year we learned to practice grace with ourselves and others. From a pandemic to politics to protests, the trouble and tragedy seemed relentless and put everyone on edge. But we also learned how grace grew out of the turmoil as families, friends and communities pulled together to share kindness, compassion and the generosity of spirit. Grace is also a gift we have learned to give to ourselves, as we slow down, accept change and continue to work on our recovery.    

Recovery in a pandemic is possible. Reflect on how you can use the lessons learned from 2020 to build a more fulfilling recovery journey in the coming years. Although the current health crisis can provoke anxiety and fear, do not use it as an excuse to drink or use. It is more important than ever that we put into practice the coping skills that we know will help us manage our anxiety and fear.

Remember — take it one day a time and continue to strengthen your sobriety.

Sober Holiday Resources

For people in recovery from addiction and for those ready to celebrate the holiday safely and soberly, having a plan in place to manage potential triggers to consume alcohol or other substances can help you enjoy the holidays in a safe, healthy way. 

If you or someone you know may have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, the addiction experts at Valley Hope can provide a free level of care screening to determine if you require clinical treatment. Because addiction remains a public health crisis in America, Valley Hope provides an essential public health service and continues to welcome new patients at each of our 19 treatment centers with medical detox services, residential treatment, online outpatient treatment and virtual recovery support programs.

We know that the dangers of addiction dramatically increase in the face of heightened anxiety, stress and isolation. That’s why our team of treatment experts stand ready to provide help and healing for alcohol misuse in a safe, compassionate environment.

For immediate help 24/7, call the Valley Hope Patient Access Center at (800) 544-5101.

With extensive precautions in place, Valley Hope is continuously working with public health officials, staff, communities and partners to ensure safety and remain open to new patients.

Learn more:

Help 24/7: (800) 544-5101

Impact of COVID-19 on People with SUD

CDC Resources

Valley Hope is Expanding Access to Treatment and Recovery Support

Recovery Resources