The pandemic has been a significant challenge for so many of us, but for drug users and those who are doing their best to stay sober it has been particularly difficult.
*Tammara stayed at the Crisis Program early in the pandemic, and due to COVID-19 concerns, we were required to keep her isolated in her room for 14 days. She had a significant history of drug use and because of this, would generally struggle to stay with us for any longer than a week at a time. I have been working with her for about 2 years now – through the turbulence of her addiction and struggle for sobriety – so I knew how incredibly tough it was going to be for her to be in her room for 2 weeks straight.
Tammara came to us from detox, and we greeted each other like old friends. I had to break the news to her that this stay would be a little different, as she would have to stay in her room to protect others from potential exposure. I explained to her that we had a Youth Worker cellphone that she could call anytime so she was always able to talk to staff on shift, that we could lend her a laptop with a Netflix and Disney Plus account, plus all sorts of activities to do like colouring, crosswords, yoga stretches, knitting, etc.
She was apprehensive but approached it with the attitude I’d seen so many times from her – optimistic and hopeful. Sobriety has always been her number one goal in life, and she knew that being in isolation would ensure she would achieve this for the short term. Every day on my shift we’d talk on the phone or text.
There were, of course, some days when she was feeling really low and finding it tough to do even the simplest of tasks like showering or getting dressed. Other days we would talk for quite some time and she was upbeat and positive. The 2 weeks felt like an eternity, especially for an extrovert like Tammara who craved the company of others.
Thankfully, she was able to attend her counselling appointments virtually during this time, and every day she got a little closer to freedom and a little further from her dependence on drugs. When the 2 weeks were up, me and her other consistent Youth Workers made her a card to let her know that we recognized how much strength it took for her to finish the quarantine period.
On the day she came out of her room, we gave her the card and she read it with tears in her eyes. She looked at me and told me that she’d been trying so hard but had never gone that long without using drugs to cope with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental health.
She used the time in her room to give her body and her mind a break. Sure, she watched a LOT of movies, but she also did some real healing knowing that she was in a safe place with support all around her. Isolation would never have been her first choice to support her sobriety, but it turned out to be an incredibly valuable and beneficial part of her sober journey.
Shared by Rhiannon, Youth Worker at our Crisis Program
*Name changed for confidentiality