Extenuating Circumstances in Recovery – COVID-19 UK

extenuating circumstances

Isolation in the UK is like isolation in the US …

I don’t know about you, but my mind is very easily led to catastrophe. And in light of the current extenuating circumstances and COVID-19, it all feels a little like an episode of “The Walking Dead”. Reality does remind me that this pandemic is not going to wipe out society as we know it. (Although some reports would scare you into thinking such a thing.) But the ever increasing numbers of illness and death are overwhelming. And what I do know is that uncertainty is quite bad for my addictive mind.


Extenuating Circumstances in Recovery

In these doubtful times, the person with a substance use disorder (SUD) inside me, can spiral out of control. It’s hard not to project and worry about what may or may not happen. My giant ego swears, it’ll never happen to me, why is everyone making such a fuss? But the real events make me think the exact opposite. Then I can almost feel left out if I don’t get ill. I know. I know. My mind is a turbulent roller-coaster that can go up and down until I find the end of the ride and step off …


Working from home, staying sensible …

I am one of the lucky ones and am still working, and successfully, at home.  Therefore, each working day gives me structure and purpose. I get up, get showered and dressed and ready for my day ahead. This is is a very sensible approach for a person in recovery. Before sobriety, I would be relishing this opportunity. The alcoholic in me would be drinking worry free of the next day hangover and how I was going to feel. I would be stockpiling alcohol “just in case”. And maybe make the odd joke about spirits warding off the virus. But at the same time, I would probably have little concern about food for the family.


These days, I am throwing myself into my program and using this time to improve my spiritual well-being. Some of my coping strategies include my daily structure, being mindful of other struggling alcoholics, and reaching out where I can. My own self care is key too. Yoga, meditation as well as taking this time to cook healthy meals to keep my body in balance are all part of the plan.


Meetings are all now being conducted online. And I have embraced this and am sticking firmly with my regular groups.  I am more aware of new people joining and using the opportunity to reach out, especially to those with less than 12 months sobriety.


I am not a great one for watching the news (it is way too depressing). So I read what I can and trust the facts from where I can find them. My reality is that I don’t know anyone with any symptoms and am physically fit and healthy, so I assume I am a low risk, but I am following all the guidelines.


3 things that have kept me level:

One Day at a Time. I have continued to live in the day (that old standby from AA is especially helpful now). Stockpiling supplies is not an option for me financially, so I am buying little and often and taking precautions at the shops. And the shops have found a balance now and buying goods is not an issue. I have no idea when things will change so I see no point in worrying about this.


extenuating circumstances

Walking Wallace can be good for my recovery during extenuating circumstances …


Think, Think, Think. Think about what recovery tools work for me during this difficult time. I still walk my dog and use dog walking time to truly see nature and the signs of spring. The parks and paths are quiet, so there is little distraction, and this allows me to take in the blossoming flowers and fresh grass.


HALT.  My pace is slower these days. And I’m not stressing about how/when to get to places. I’m not rushing around. I am talking good care of myself – eating 3 healthy meals a day. I am talking to my friends, especially my sober ones and that helps with connection.


Self-Isolation – Extenuating Circumstances

The UK Government says to isolate. Isolation can be my biggest demon and an easy opportunity to relapse. (After all, who would know?)  For me that is not an option I can consider. Because I have worked very hard to get to this point in my life and the only person who will truly lose is myself. I try to remember that COVID-19 is a short-term problem. It’s not a movie about a Zombie Apocalypse (even though it definitely feels like I have a starring role). There will be a solution we just have to give the scientists time to find it and TRUST IT WILL ALL BE OK.


We are in fear of the unknown right now and that will change as we understand more and more about the virus and how it spreads. Who would have thought this is something we would have to deal with in our lifetimes let alone in our recovery? One thing I do know for certain is that I WILL not allow a virus to change all the hard work I have done to get sober and find this balance that I have.



Nicola Lee

Nicola Lee had it all - a successful career, 2 children, marriage, car, house... She found herself at alcoholic rock bottom on the 5th December 2015. Nicola says, "After some time in sobriety, I decided to write down my journey through recovery and finding a way to live happily and sober. By writing my truth I hope to dispel some of the myths around what defines an alcoholic." Nicola Lee lives in Hampshire, England. She writes a blog at called 365 'Days a Year' and also writes for the Huffington Post UK.