Isolating and social distancing can cause additional stress for many people. For those in addiction recovery, it could lead to relapse.
There is no complete agreement on what causes addiction. Zach Sneed, assistant professor and program director for addiction counseling at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, said it is partially genetic, and the environment could also play a factor.
"That's where epigenesis comes in," Sneed said. "So, the environmental interplay with the genetics, so we don't have one thing that we can point at for a cause. We think it comes from a lot of different things. It's sort of, if you will, a confluence of factors."
Addiction does not only apply to drugs and alcohol. It can include gambling, excessive eating, or an internet gaming disorder. Sneed said isolation, along with stress and anxiety, can contribute to a relapse.
"This can be an especially trying time in the recovery community. It sort of exists by being connected, and that's one of the big things that's really supportive to people who are either struggling with addiction or struggling with recovery," Sneed said.
For anyone who needs help, he said now would be a good time to look into telehealth or telemedicine. You can speak to a health care provider without leaving your home. There are also a variety of online recovery communities.
"Each one has something that makes it kind of special and unique," Sneed said. "So if you get into an online community, and maybe you're not feeling it, you just don't like the way that people are talking with or the way that they're interpreting something. There's another one."
Family and friends are also good sources of support. During an unstructured time like this, Sneed said it is important to engage in a balance of activities and figure out what is causing stress without resorting to unhealthy activities. If you feel you need help, consider using telehealth resources.