‘Below Deck Med’: Captain Sandy Reaches Out to Those Struggling With Their Sobriety During the Pandemic

Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean acknowledges that stressful situations like the coronavirus pandemic can be especially triggering for people in recovery from addiction.

Yawn posted a video on Instagram where she reached out to those who may be struggling right now. “I just want to share with a lot of you, who have stopped drinking. If you’re struggling there’s meetings you can go to online,” she said.

Captain Sandy Yawn
Captain Sandy Yawn | Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“There’s a link on my Facebook page,” she said. “I struggle too. It certainly crossed my mind. This is so stressful. In my lifetime, I have never experienced anything like this. I keep trying to find the positive. I can’t turn the news on anymore. Oh my gosh, you’d think it’s Armageddon.”

“If you’re struggling and you need some support, I’ll leave you a message,” she added. Yawn said people could send her a direct message but asked them to be patient as she might not be able to respond immediately.

She understands the reality of the challenge

Yawn said people in recovery are especially vulnerable during a pandemic or other highly stressful situation. “Obviously, it’s in you,” Yawn told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “What do people do when it’s stressful? A lot of people take a drink. So many people relax by drinking a glass of wine or here in Denver smoking pot or having some edibles, right?”

“I don’t have that luxury,” she continued. “Because I have it in my genes. I’m an addict, an alcoholic. I have to exercise, go to meetings. And know that this will pass. This too shall pass. That’s what I keep saying to myself. I call my sponsor, I stay engaged with people in recovery. And it’s hard, it’s a struggle.”

She disclosed that even though she’s been in recovery for decades, she still thinks about drinking.

“The other day, it crossed my mind,” she shared. “I’m not kidding you. When there’s nothing else to do … I said to Leah [Shafer], ‘You know what I would do today? I’d be in a bar, playing pool, listening to the jukebox, getting smashed. Hammered.’ If there was a problem, I would drink. It’s like you go in to fix it [with drugs or alcohol] but you come out and the problem is still there.”

Captain Sandy has advice on how to handle stress

Yawn knows that many people are self-medicating during the pandemic. “I just want to say, you don’t have to [self-medicate with drugs and alcohol]. Instead, do the things that you’ve always wanted to learn,” she suggested. “Like, I want to learn to play the piano. Leah bought me this keyboard and I’ve been playing that.”

“And between doing my taxes and the social media, just ramp it up because I want to be there for the people who obviously watch our show. I had thousands of messages. I can’t keep up.”

“I just want people to know they are not alone,” she added. “I’m not an introvert, I’m an extrovert. So it’s hard for me to not be around people. Which makes it even harder.”

You can still go to meetings

Yawn suggests that attending an online meeting, or even a meeting in person where they are practicing social distancing, can help. Alcoholics Anonymous has a meeting locator guide here. “They also have 24-hour meetings at the clubhouses and don’t close,” she adds. “You can go online, it’s 24/7.”

Yawn is also a big believer in exercise. She acknowledges that a number of gyms are closed but says there are ways to still work out. “My friend Randi posted the ‘quarantine workout sheet!’ So yeah, you can go online and print anything. Do push-ups. I do the burpees and lunges and situps.” Another option is to check out an online streaming fitness platform like NEOU. The fitness app features Andy Cohen’s trainer and many more.

Finally, Yawn had a message about fear. “I decide how I think,” she said. “It isn’t a force in my mind. If I read something or hear something, I decide. It’s up to me. I choose to live in faith and not fear.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.