During treatment for recovery from addiction, men are susceptible to colds and fever which “go around” among men in their program, their recovery support meetings, and even the neighborhood. Within just a few short months or weeks since detox, the body is still susceptible to catching the common cold or flu. Though men in recovery are working steadfastly to rebuild their health, their immune system can still be compromised due to the recency of substance abuse.
Why Being Sick In Early Recovery Can Be Triggering
Drugs and alcohol wire the brain to prioritize the experience of pleasure. When drugs and alcohol are consumed, they set off the hyper production of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is a messenger chemical sending signals of pleasure throughout the brain. The brain becomes addicted to the sensation of pleasure and actively seeks anything that creates pleasure, especially in opposition to anything that doesn’t feel pleasurable.
There’s nothing particularly pleasurable about having the flu as someone who isn’t in their first year of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. As someone who is in their first year of recovery, the flu can be wretched and triggering. Flu symptoms are many of the same symptoms experienced in detox from drugs and alcohol. In the first year of recovery, that experience of detox is never too far behind. Sweating fevers, shaking shivers, body aches, and feeing overall awful is uncomfortable and can be triggering for three reasons. Firstly, there’s nothing great about having the flu. Second, the symptoms of the flu can be reminiscent of detox and trick the brain into craving drugs and alcohol to create more pleasure than discomfort. Third, having to sit still, be in bed, and housebound, can be triggering during early recovery. Activity, interactions, and immersions into a recovery community are paramount during the first year. Feeling “stuck” or “bored” in addition to feeling sick can lead to an overwhelming desire to feel “better”, which the brain interprets as using drugs and alcohol.
Do’s And Don’t’s of Flu Season In Recovery
When everyone in your program has the flu, it can be hard to avoid. There are some ways to try and avoid getting sick or to reduce your experience of the flu if you catch it.
- Do take high quantities of Vitamin C to boost your immune system. Look for Vitamin C ascorbate instead of Vitamin C ascorbic acid. Stay away from Vitamin C supplements full of sugar. Sugar is an inflammatory and will make you more susceptible to getting sick.
- Don’t share drinks, foods, or anything that you’re going to consume with people who are sick. Avoid shaking hands during flu season- it may sound ridiculous, but you’ll thank yourself for not taking on more germs than necessary.
- Do keep stock of holistic health options like eucalyptus for a stuffy nose, echinacea and elderberry for immune support, or cough drops.
- Don’t turn to over the counter medicines which have DXM, dextromethorphan, a highly addictive substance.
- Do give yourself time to rest, sleep, and stay in bed. Going to group, therapy, meetings, and more will spread the flu to everyone else and keep the cycle going. Watch movies, sleep, or read a book.
- Don’t smoke cigarettes while you are sick. You can risk developing a Bronchitis or a chest infection which will prolong your sickness.
We believe in your ability to change. We know men struggling with addiction have the capacity to create transformative change in their lives, sustainably, building a sustainable sobriety and future. Call Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California today for information on our men’s addiction treatment programs: (855) 202-2138