Winter Storm Athena has again slammed the Northeast with snow, ice, power outages, freezing temperatures and the hardships that go with them. Coming so soon on the heels of Sandy, this added stress will be hard on people in recovery, especially on folks just out of detox or treatment.

Experts tell us that Sandy and similar disasters rank extremely high on the stress scale, even for people whe are not themselves severely affected. Stress is one of the primary relapse triggers. People in recovery need to make extra efforts in their programs during such times, and travel and communications difficulties may make this hard.

Sunrise suggests that folks faced with these additional pressures on their recovery should avail themselves of whatever resources they can. For those completely cut off from contact with other recovering people, we recommend not isolating. Try to remain in the company of others. Distract yourself with chores or reading — especially reading about recovery. If you have recovery tapes or MP3’s, listen to a few. Journal. Write down your feelings about what you are experiencing, and things that you are learning about yourself.

If you have Internet access (as you almost certainly do if you’re reading this), search for “online recovery groups” and reach out to them. Someone on the other end may need support, too, and there is nothing like another recovering person to help us weather storms, of whatever kind. If you are able, reach out by phone to members of your own support group, especially sponsors. If possible, get to a meeting. Perhaps an impromptu meeting could be arranged among a few recovering friends. You don’t need a meeting hall.

Those close to recovering people need to understand that the stress could be dangerous to their loved one or friend. Without clinging or being annoying, try to include them in anything that may be going on to distract them. Helping with cooking, playing cards, board games, sing-alongs and other communal activities can raise the spirits of all involved.  Many have found that periods without distractions, such as TV and the other factors of our busy lives, have brought them closer to their loved ones and neighbors.

We also recommend that you get to a meeting as soon as you can. The other folks who have been impacted by the storm need your support just as much as you need theirs. Take care of yourself. Nothing…nothing…is worth adding the tragedy of relapse onto problems caused by the weather.

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