Coping With Disaster

by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP

addiction treatment recoverySan Diego is coping with another major set of fires. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these events. Any disaster brings additional risk for individuals in addiction recovery. We hope the following guidelines are helpful.

1. Focus on the physical first. Attend to injuries, even minor ones. Get to the safest place you can. Get warm (or cool). Stay fed and hydrated. Rest as needed.

2. Expect to be more emotional. It’s OK to be numb at first. However your emotions show up, and in whatever time, accept them. Express yourself to others. Be careful not to mistreat others.

3. Include self-care as a component of your efforts to restore your life. It is not just possessions that need restoration. In time, if needed, seek professional help.

4. Maintain attention to recovery, however you need to do it. If your normal addiction recovery activities are disrupted (e.g., you can’t get to your meetings or your therapy session), find another way to connect to what is important. Call others. Read. Think. Go for a walk.

5. Expect craving to increase for a while. Craving was normal in your life for a long time. It is likely to come back during times of high stress. It will subside again.

6. Keep the big picture in mind. In a month, a year, 10 years, you may have only nostalgic memories of what is so difficult now. You have coped in the past. You will cope now also.