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Your sick when sober survival guide


Is it just us, or is everyone sick this time of year?

Adulting while ill is difficult enough. For those in recovery, however, getting sick presents its own set of pitfalls. For example, many cold and flu medications contain — you guessed it, alcohol. We’re looking at you Nyquil. Others medications act like uppers, while still others make you feel drowsy like downers.

These feelings can be highly triggering for those in recovery.

So if you feeling a cold or flu coming on, and you’re seeking relief, here’s what to look out for. Keep these simple tips in mind, and you’ll feel better without taking any steps backward on your path to recovery.

Read Labels Carefully

Avoid medications that contain alcohol. When in doubt, talk to your doctor, a sponsor, or a trusted friend in recovery. Find out what side effects to expect before taking any medication.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

When we’re feeling under the weather, it’s natural to want to be alone. But even when you feel unwell, it’s important to follow through on your service commitments. If possible, don’t skip meetings or other obligations.

But we get it, sometimes bedrest is not only the best medicine, it’s doctor’s orders. If this is the case, call a friend or sponsor. Read some recovery literature, like the AA Grapevine. Or take advantage of the downtime to get some journaling or step work done.

Another possibility while flat on your back with a fever or a cough is to listen to speakers on tape or a podcast. For instance, check in with Serenity Lane alumni on the Serenity Lane podcast available here.

Practice Self Care

Doctor’s orders say slow down and take care of yourself. Listen to your doctor and rest, stay hydrated, eat healthy foods, and be gentle with yourself. Most of all, remember the things in life we’re all powerless to control – including when and how we happen to get sick.

Ask for Help

This can be the most difficult thing to do, to simply ask for help when we need it. But when you’re sick, it’s more important than ever to ask for — and accept — the help friends, family, sponsors, or others in the recovery community might be offering. Say yes to that homemade soup. Let the AA meeting come to you.

Most importantly, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in your recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, and neither are you alone when recovering during the worst of cold and flu season.

Rest, stay hydrated, and we hope you’re feeling better soon.

Non-profit treatment centers for
alcohol and drug addictions.
Treatment facilities located in:

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