As Alabama has announced that anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the end of the pandemic seems like it’s in sight and will be here by summer. Though bars and restaurants have been open at full capacity for some time, with the arrival of vaccinations there is a carefree sense of joy. At long last, we will be able to freely drink at a bar, go to a party with a big group of friends, or visit relatives without worrying about getting someone sick with COVID-19. However, for someone struggling with opioid addiction, the end of the pandemic may cause more fear and anxiety than relief. With the carefree and wild attitude that many people are expressing, both on social media and in real life, during this vaccinated summer, many people who experience opioid addiction or dependency have had fears of relapsing or picking up old habits. If this vaccinated summer is causing you more stress and anxiety than excitement as a recovering opioid addict, here are a few ways to handle this fun upcoming season, without fear of a relapse.

Make New Connections

For those who are recovering from opioid addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the only benefits was a forced disconnection from those in their lives who had been enablers or otherwise encouraged opioid use. As the pandemic goes away, everyone is looking to connect again; this could be bad for you. If gathering with your old friends could cause a potential relapse, it might be best to stay away. Some friends are very supportive of recovering opioid addicts, actually causing them to fall into the trap again.

The good news is though, after more than a year of not feeling comfortable enough to meet new friends, many people are looking at this vaccination summer as a time to get back out there and make connections with new people. A great place to start is with any hobbies you may have picked up during the lockdown. Many people have started baking, painting, crafting, and woodworking during the pandemic. For those looking to reach out, there are plenty of resources to bring those skills to a more social setting. Check out a local community center or community college for low-cost classes to help sharpen your skills.

The pandemic has also given a lot of people a newfound appreciation for outdoor exercise since gyms have been closed. Look through Facebook or Meetup to see if there are any walking, running, or biking groups near you. The best advice for being comfortable making new connections is to bring someone with you who puts you at ease. Taking a class or joining a new group with a trusted friend is a great way to have fun and still open yourself up to the possibility of making new friends. Returning to normal social life may be tricky for those who are recovering from opioid addiction, but building new healthy relationships is an awesome way to make it just a little bit easier. 

Control Your Surroundings

In addition to making new friends, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when you are with your old friends. While it may be exciting to frequent your old haunts, for some people recovering from opioid addiction these places can bring up the temptation of old habits. Additionally, some environments like bars, nightclubs, and house parties are more conducive to potentially damaging behavior. It’s much easier to find opioids in a club than it is to find them in say, a coffee shop.

Often the most insidious thing about opioids is that they are so easily accessible both in prescription painkiller and other forms. As the pandemic rescinds, it’s important to be open and honest with yourself. If being around a bar or club is too tempting for you, leave. You can use all kinds of excuses to leave without making anyone feel bad. An excuse like “I’m not feeling well” or “I need to let my dog out” will work just fine.

Remember that addiction is not a smooth and steady path. Instead, it’s full of trials and tribulations. The environments that you put yourself in can have a huge impact on that. The vaccine summer of partying may not be conducive to a recovering opioid addict, so it’s necessary to check in with yourself and take control of what kind of environments you feel comfortable in. 

It’s Okay To Chill Out

As the summer parties ignite and the gatherings start, it’s important to remember not to get swept up in the excitement. It’s exciting to be with all your friends again. Whether you meet them at a backyard barbecue or a night out, it’s something that was needed. You can finally get back to your life, back to normal! With the vaccine, you can relax, let loose, and enjoy life outside of masks and barriers. However, you still have to be mindful of your situation.

As a recovering opioid addict, be conscious of the fact that healing from this illness will be difficult. Make your time out as temptation-free as possible. Recovering from addiction is not a battle of your will. Instead, it is a conscious medical effort to rewire your brain to not desire opioids. This is a lot easier when you surround yourself with a strong support system.

Know When To Get Help 

In a vaccinated summer, the fear of missing out is going to be intense, especially for a recovering opioid addict. While out, you’re going to want pictures and videos with your friends. This is all good, just make sure you don’t relapse during this time. If you feel like you are struggling, find help. Don’t blame yourself if you feel you are relapsing. Instead, recognize that addiction is an illness. Remember, you wouldn’t get upset with yourself for catching the flu. Don’t let shame keep you from getting the help you need.

For Alabama patients, Fritz Clinic can help. We offer cutting-edge medical treatments to help you overcome your illness. Plus, we offer addiction counseling as additional support throughout the whole process. While the pandemic may be ending, the opioid epidemic remains firmly intact. After you get your vaccine, you should be looking forward to a safer future. Don’t let opioids take control of your life, contact Fritz Clinic today and take the first step to a summer, and a lifetime, free of opioid addiction.