How to reach out to those in recovery this Easter

This Easter will be a very different experience for most of us.

Instead of inviting extended family and friends over for a lamb roast and Easter egg hunt, celebrating with the community at church, or going on a nice family holiday, we will be spending most of the day alone or just with the people we live with.

Holidays can be hard for many people, for lots of different reasons. As we are all experiencing a glimpse of how isolating or lonely celebrations can be, why not take this opportunity to reach out to someone you know who is struggling?

We know that isolation is closely connected with addiction and never have we been more physically isolated from each other than right now.

We’ve spoken to Helen Deeson at Humankind, a charity that provides recovery support services, for ideas about how we can reach out to people in recovery this Easter – and beyond.

Make the most of technology to keep in touch

Helen says: “At times like this, it is normal to feel anxious or confused and it can really help to talk to family and friends. There are plenty of virtual ways you can keep in touch; WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Zoom (an online video call tool), text message, telephone or email! So there is no excuse not to check in on that friend or family member and ask how they are feeling.”

Arrange to do a quiz over video call or organise a Netflix Party and watch a new film with your friends online! Or perhaps have a go at organising a virtual Easter egg hunt?

Send a letter

“We all know how nice it is to receive a letter or card in the post.” says Helen, “Why not go old school and send one to someone that you are thinking of, to let them know you are there for them?”

If you are affected by someone else’s drug or alcohol use, you can also take part in SFAD’s #AnonPenPals letter writing project. You can write a letter about anything you’d like such as what you’re doing right now, what’s helping, what you are struggling with. This letter will then be sent to somebody who needs support, and you will get a letter from somebody else in return.

Encourage them to keep a journal

Helen says: “Encourage someone you care about to write a journal of how they are feeling each day. Often writing something down can help make sense of things and is a great way to express thoughts, feelings and opinions.”

Help them to find new online communities

“There are lots of resources and support groups online.” Helen says, “Perhaps helping your friend join an AA online meeting might be a good way for them to connect with others experiencing the same difficulties. Meetings all over the world are open for people to join on Zoom.”

Recovery services across the country are also putting fantastic resources online. Forward Leeds have done a series of films on the 5 ways to wellbeing and mindfulness sessions that you can watch for free.

Remember It’s OK to ask for help yourself

With everything that is going on, make sure you look after your own mental well being and health as well as others. If you’re struggling, do ask for help!

Local drug and alcohol support services are still open and are able to offer advice and guidance over the phone if you are worried about someone. You can find a list of all the different options and how to reach them here.

The NHS Every Mind Matters website will give you tailored tips and advice for you.  If you need urgent help and support, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or [email protected]; they are available 24/7.