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How to Cope When Natural Disaster Strikes

How to Cope When Natural Disaster Strikes

The United States seems to be experiencing lots of natural disasters the past few years. Currently there is a hurricane and tropical storm hitting the coastal Carolinas that is leaving devastating flooding in its wake, ravaging communities. Wildfires have broken out that are taking homes down in one fell swoop, burning out of control for months at a time. The relentlessness of nature can be financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually devastating. Learn some tips for how to cope in sobriety when natural disaster strikes you or your loved ones and how to navigate recovery in its wake.

Relapse Risk

The first thing of concern focuses on the risk of relapse in situations where intense emotional, physical, and spiritual upheaval occur. It is possible to handle the stress of a natural disaster without throwing away months, weeks, or even years of sobriety in the proverbial fire. Recovery is hard enough with all the challenges it brings to rebuild your life, build a support network, and just stay sober day-to-day. The risk of relapse is real, but so is the possibility of navigating natural disaster without caving into temptation.

Stress  and the Brain

Stress caused by disastrous events has been shown to increase the risk of relapse. There are many reasons for this:

  • The emotional impact of a natural disaster can cause the body to have a stress response. Stress affects the brain biologically and drives craving for drugs and alcohol.
  • Stressed brains can see drugs and alcohol as a means of escape, to get away from the hopelessness and sense of feeling lost.
  • Studies have shown alcohol abuse go up in the wake of natural disasters as a coping mechanism

Having a recovery strategy in place is as key as having a disaster evacuation plan in place. Drugs and alcohol can no more solve problems brought on by natural disaster than they can by problems brought on by daily life.

Tips to Guard Sobriety

To keep recovery safe, it is essential to get a plan in place. You might start by trying these tips:

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. Disaster preparedness is not just for homes, it is also key to recovery. Come up with an evacuation plan and a list of local support networks. Let family and loved ones know the plan.
  • Keep talking to people. Check in with the support network regularly, discuss any fears and emotions that may arise. Keep an open communication line and take action when necessary.
  • Continue self-care activities. To the best of your ability, don’t stop taking care of yourself. Eat healthy meals, journal, meditate, exercise, and drink lots of water. Do some yoga or an activity that includes mindfulness to take your mind off of what is happening.
  • Don’t follow every single news report. Limit your information to what’s happening locally and just what you need to know to feel safe. Our minds will catastrophize if we don’t set it straight.

There are ways to maintain sanity (and sobriety) in recovery but it takes a bit of work ahead of time. If you plan and prepare now, you will feel better about the journey going forward.

Have a plan and be prepared. Sounds easier said than done. Serenity can come alongside you and help you develop a plan to be more prepared when disaster strikes in sobriety. We will help you get organized and figure out best next steps for your recovery. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401