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In Depth: Without In-Person Meetings This Is How Some Texans Maintain Their Substance Use Recovery

a woman holding a volleyball
Julia Reihs
/
Texas Standard
Chrissy Glenn says the dopamine released in her brain during physical activities like volleyball help keep her from wanting to self-medicate and relapse into substance abuse.

From Texas Standard:

Isolation has kept many of us safer from COVID-19. But it is hurting people recovering from a substance use disorder.

That’s because people already working on their recovery are in somewhat of a fragile state.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Dr. Sidharth Wakhlu, an addiction psychiatrist with UT Southwestern Medical Center says overdose deaths are accelerating “in at least 37 states.” Texas is among them. And it is heartbreaking, he says, because “people with addictions are good people with a bad disease.”

So, how are some Texans able to maintain their recovery without the possibility of in-person meetings due to COVID-19?

Chrissy Glenn, a spokeswoman for Infinite Recovery, a treatment facility in Central Texas, is also in recovery. She says her go-to option during the pandemic has been to get involved with physically demanding, outdoor, socially distanced sports such as volleyball. Playing volleyball, she says, helps the body release dopamine, the feel-good hormone and neurotransmitter that her brain craves and helps keep her mind off of wanting to self-medicate.

Robin Lindeman, Infinite Recovery’s clinical director, maintains her recovery through her family ties. She credits her father with saving her life 12 years ago when she was homeless on the streets of San Antonio and so addicted that her father would hospitalize her after every one of her many overdoses.

Today, she is a mother of two young children who keep her mentally and physically engaged so that her brain experiences healing as they develop and grow.

Steven Long leads client services for Infinite Recovery. For the last 10 years, the Serenity Prayer has been his anchor, along with the 12 steps used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other substance use disorder treatment groups.

But, again, recovery is a fragile state. So, Long, Lindeman and Glenn recommend that either the person in recovery or those around them reach out for help.

“You are in isolation but you are not alone,” Long said. “Reach out. Your life is worth it, man.”

Glenn says it’s sometimes so hard for someone in recovery to reach out.

“It’s a 1,000-pound phone at times when you are struggling,” she said.

But during a pandemic, any outreach is a good one, even by phone.

“Is it the ideal means of connection? Absolutely not. But is it a means of survival? It Absolutely is,” she said.

In Texas there’s help available at the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line: 833-986-1919. If you or your loved one are in an immediate crisis, call 911.

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