Covid-19 is one of many scourges and diseases humans have faced. Each disease teaches us new lessons. What are we learning now?

Covid-19 isn’t the end of the world, but it is the end of life as we knew it. Call me horrid and mean, but as a recovery advocate I have to point out that 5 million people perish worldwide from substance and alcohol addiction every year, and we have not changed in any way to save them.

Substance addiction is a scourge that you catch in school, so it is contagious, and we should do some messaging around how to keep kids safe. But I digress. How has life in lockdown changed us and how will we be when it’s over?

What’s changed

We’re not used to life without constantly being on the move, having our entertainments, our trips, our food from restaurants,. In addition, children can’t go to school. Millions of people can’t go to work, and aren’t being paid, which means they can’t pay their bills. That’s really scary. We’re not used to being stuck at home, and more important, we can’t stand not having answers. The messaging from the government is confusing. We don’t know who to believe and who to trust. But this has happened before.

Here’s why you shouldn’t panic

We have seen lots of human messiness that should give us perspective on all the things we have not lost. Plenty of disruptions have ravaged lives. When a flood or wildfire, hurricane or tornado destroys a community, the disruption is complete and lasts for years. Famine and war are a two more.

Economic depressions have flattened the nation for decades. Other scourges have wiped out whole populations around the world, and many were manmade. Intentional devastation and disruption happen for political reasons, racism, and greed all the time. Genocide is happening right now in many places on the planet. Endless series war seem to be part of human DNA. but diseases have also had tremendous impact in almost every generation. Polio, malaria, TB, AIDS, not to mention plague. We, as humans, have seen it all.

Covid-19 is not the end of the world. I’m trying to calm you down here.

Did you know that according to WHO alcohol kills some 3 million people, and tobacco kills some 5 million people a year? You may have noticed that no one has shut down pubs and bars or taught your children what’s good and bad for them to ingest and to do. Addiction education is not a national priority, and there were 70,000 drug overdose deaths last year. Everyone knows someone who has died from addiction. This is a scourge that continues unabated.

About what’s happening now. Bombs are not falling on us

We’re facing what seems to be complete disruption, and it’s devastating to think how many people are hurting. But it’s not actually complete disruption. Bombs are not falling on us. We still have essentials like, shelter, power, water, Internet and phones, if not enough testing or protective gear. The food supply chain is struggling, but we will figure it out. Now is a good time to grow some produce wherever we can.

In recovery we talk about personal and emotional resources all the time. Those of us who learn to busy ourselves with the basics and who can find serenity and care for themselves and others have an easier time when disaster strikes. This is the time to use the lessons of addiction recovery to keep us centered, grateful and occupied in a positive way. More about this later. Stay safe.


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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. Leslie is also the creator of Recovery Guidance, the information website for those seeking addiction and mental healthcare for professionals nationwide. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation.

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