Quarantined with Someone in Recovery? What YOU Can Do to Help Them Stay Sober

Son and father in quarantine

The time we are living in is a difficult one for a lot of people. Across the nation, tens of millions of Americans have had their lives thoroughly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Many have lost their jobs, hundreds of thousands have gotten sick, and millions of families are staying at home practicing social distancing.

For those in recovery, this unique period in history is a struggle in and of itself. Many recovering addicts have worked hard to build a stable and rewarding life. Not being able to go to work or school or engage in regular daily activities can come as quite a shock.

If you know someone who is in recovery and who is struggling through this unusual event, what can you do to help them through it? How can you help them make the best of an unpleasant situation and do so in a way that helps them hold onto their sobriety?

Ten Things You Can Do to Help a Recovering Addict Through Quarantine

Here are some ideas on what you can do to help a loved one through this difficult time.

1. Talk through the struggles. Communication is perhaps the best tool you have in helping your loved one through any struggles they may face during the coronavirus pandemic. They must maintain their recovery through all of this. Be sure you are there for them and that you talk with them every day, for as long as it takes, to verbally help them through their struggles. And don’t forget to listen quite a bit too.

Father and adult son are talking

2. Go on walks with them. It is possible to maintain social distancing while walking! Take your loved one for walks every day. A pleasant walk fills the lungs with fresh air, puts the sun on the cheeks, and helps hit the emotional reset button. A walk can be a great way to pull a recovering addict out of a funk.

3. Take an online class together. Why not spend this time learning something new? If the recovering addict in your life is going through a hard time and struggling with the quarantine period, now could be a great time to take an online class and learn a new skill together. It could be something as simple as a cooking class, or it could be something more involved like an online college class.

4. Deep clean the house together. Since the primary goal at this time is to stay safe and healthy (on top of staying sober), it would be a good idea for you and your loved one to deep clean the house together. You don’t even have to leave the house to get cleaning supplies. You can have them shipped to your front door. Then take the time to clean the home, paying particular attention to the areas that are often missed during usual cleanings. A thorough cleaning not only disinfects the house and helps prevent the spread of germs, but it also gives your loved one something productive and engaging to do.

5. Do something physically demanding in the fresh air, like spring yard work and landscaping. Now that it’s spring, why not take advantage of the quarantine and use this time to get outside and do some physical labor? A lot of what might be stressing your loved one out may just be the forced change in their routine and schedule and the forced nature of being made to stay at home. But staying at home doesn’t have to mean staying inside. If you and your loved one have a yard or garden, take this time to do some landscaping, plant some flowers, trim trees and hedges, rake leaves, etc.

6. Watch documentaries, read books together, and learn new things. What better time to expand one’s mind than during a lockdown? If your loved one is feeling distressed, this could be the perfect opportunity to get together, watch a few documentaries, or otherwise enhance your minds together. And if you’re learning about the same things together, you can engage in dialogue about those subjects, and that gives you both something new to talk about.

7. Exercise together. An endorphin release is sometimes all that’s needed to take a bad day and make it better. Since being cooped up at home can lead to lethargy, shiftlessness, and a lot of time spent on the couch, it wouldn't be a bad idea to convince your loved one to commit to a daily exercise regimen, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day.

8. Consider seeking support online from counseling organizations and recovery support groups. During the coronavirus pandemic, people who are in recovery and who are used to going to support groups, counseling, or other recovery-based activities are suddenly unable to do those things. That can have a harsh toll, as recovering addicts often benefit a great deal from such sober-minded activities. During quarantine, several support groups and therapy organizations have shifted their operations to online. Some such groups are doxy.me, TalkSpace, TheraNest, and BetterHelp. It might not be a bad idea to look into these, and to seek help, digitally, from an outside source.

Father and adult son are cooking together

9. Explore new hobbies and creative outlets together. One of the best ways to make the best of an unpleasant situation is to get creative and artistic. Maybe your loved one has an interest or a creative talent that they’d like to explore. As long as that outlet can be explored from the comfort of your home, now would be the perfect time to dive in and explore a new hobby or creative outlet together.

10. Work on plans, goals, and ambitions for the future. Sometimes, the most exciting part about being in recovery isn’t looking at what one can be doing right now, but rather what one might be able to do in the future. The beautiful thing about a life that is free of drugs and alcohol is that there is a future in that life. And it can be a pretty great one. One thing you might do during a quarantine or stay-at-home order is sit down with your loved one and plan out all of the great things he or she might want to do/achieve when the quarantine is over and life resumes something resembling normalcy. Maybe it’s getting a new job, going back to school, diving into a new passion or dream, or finding a life partner. Talking about these goals and planning for them can be a great way to stay optimistic and positive.

Seek Treatment if a Relapse Occurs

Though every effort should be taken to prevent them, relapses do sometimes occur. If your loved one suffers a relapse, the priority has to become one of getting them into a drug and alcohol treatment center as soon as possible. A relapse does not mean that your loved one lost everything they worked so hard to achieve. But it does mean they need to seek help again, and right away.

A relapse could be a momentary slip up that is immediately halted by treatment, or it could be the first step, more of a dive really, back into the toxicity and danger that is frequent substance abuse. Don’t let it be the latter. Make sure your loved one gets help as soon as possible.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC,CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.