Consumer Health

Mental Health Awareness: Substance Abuse

Stress can give rise to, or aggravate, a person’s susceptibility to substance abuse, as well as make those in recovery susceptible to relapse. When so many of our normal routines have been disrupted, the lack of structure can lead to anxiety or boredom. And for people who are homebound, it can be difficult for them to draw upon their natural support system.

“Boredom is a risk factor for substance use,” says Danielle Tischer, LCSW, an Englewood Health social worker who sees behavioral health patients at the Englewood Health Physician Network’s Leonia Medical Associates in Englewood. “Change in daily activities can create anxiety for people, particularly those with substance use disorders. For those who are not working, including those who have been furloughed or laid off, or who have recently retired, not being busy can put them at risk of an increase in using or a relapse.”

Social isolation is also a significant concern for those with substance use disorders. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are available (in person or online via Zoom) and offer a way for those with addiction to stay connected. While for some, zoom may not feel quite the same as an in-person meeting, where participants might receive a hug or say a prayer while holding hands, these virtual meetings can still provide needed support and help a vulnerable person to feel less isolated.

Extensive community-based resources are available throughout Bergen County for those struggling with substance use disorders and for family and friends seeking support. The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources (tcadr.org), in partnership with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, has a 24/7 call or text hotline available to support people with substance use disorders and their loved ones. Individuals can also get connected to other resources throughout New Jersey by calling 201-589-2976.

7 Tips for Avoiding Drug and Alcohol Misuse or Relapse

  • Make a schedule. Create structure for your day; fill up your schedule and stick to it! Overfill your schedule, so you don’t have time to think about using drugs or alcohol.
  • Keep yourself distracted. Watch a favorite movie on Netflix, read a book, talk with friends, or play a game.
  • Engage in a hobby. This is a great time to enjoy a hobby. Try something new!
  • Exercise. Find ways to exercise at home or outside. Go for a walk. Participate in online group activities such as yoga or Pilates.
  • Seek support. Many community resources are available. The Englewood Health Physician Network offers individual outpatient therapy through in-person and telehealth appointments.
  • Lean on family and friends. Seek out family and friends who are able to be there for you emotionally.
  • Take one day at a time: Anyone in recovery can relapse. Keep an eye out for yourself and your friends and family. Put one foot in front of the other—take one step at a time.

The Graf Center for Integrative Medicine, together with the Gregory P. Shadek Behavioral Care Center at Englewood Health, offers Yoga for Addiction Recovery—a Facebook Live series on Wednesdays from 11 am to 12 noon. It’s a good way to stay active and connected. To join, go to facebook.com/thegrafcenter.


Danielle Tischer, LCSW, is a population health social worker with the Englewood Health Physician Network.

Posted October 5, 2020

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