Drug addiction is a bad prescription for people, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The two great epidemics of our times are intersecting, we need to highlight how these are impacting our society and we have to respond to a number of the underlying issues, which are worsening both disasters.
Addicts Produce Greater Vulnerability
Individuals who suffer from addiction are especially vulnerable to catching the COVID-19 and with a more severe version of the virus when they do catch it. There are numerous reasons for this, but let’s boil down to something called societal determinants of health, which according to the CDC, “conditions in the places where folks live, learn, work, and play that affect a broad assortment of health risks and outcomes.”
In a nutshell, individuals suffering from addiction are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, since they’re more likely to be homeless, poor, smokers with cardiovascular or lung disease, under- or uninsured, or have experienced severe health and socioeconomic issues from drug dependence. Additionally, millions of vulnerable people are confined, lots of whom are stuck in jail for their addictions and similar nonviolent drug crimes.
Support Systems And Treatment Options May Be Disrupted
For someone fighting with addiction, virtually all the services and remedies available to them have been agitated by the COVID-19 outbreak. People are advised to stay home, which directly contradicts the requirement to visit clinics to get methadone or other medicines for treating addiction. In response, our government has relaxed regulations. In theory, practices can provide 14-day or even 28-day supplies to “stable” patients, so they don’t need to wait in line and can adhere to social distancing for protection. Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories of individuals not being allowed this privilege.
At the same time, the government has eased some constraints on buprenorphine prescribing. It has enabled some telephone prescribing, but this assumes that doctors are healthy and certified to prescribe this medicine and that the pharmacies and physicians’ offices are working. Access to clean needles is also changed. Additionally, rehab centers have restricted new entrances, canceled programs, or even shuttered their doors for fear of spreading COVID-19 in a communal living setting.
Addicts Need People To Provide Emotional Support
A common truism in recovery civilization is, “Addiction is a disorder of isolation.” Hence, it makes sense that social distancing — in every possible way — is counter to many attempts to participate in a recovery community. It’s essential to not forget that experts differentiate between physical distancing and social distancing, and really highlight that we keep physical space, but be extra efforts to maintain social bonds in this time of tremendous stress and dislocation.
The social isolation that’s so essential to slow down the COVID-19 virus spread prevents individuals from attending peer-support groups, which are crucial sources of psychological and spiritual support to individuals struggling to remain in recovery.
Self-Isolation May Raise Overdose Deaths
Heightened stress is a near-universal cause for drug use, and it’s tough to think of a more stressful occasion — for all people than this outbreak. Users who embraced harm reduction methods and were using drugs with a friend are now using them independently, and there’s absolutely no one nearby who could give naloxone or call 911 in the case of an overdose. For that reason, police have been finding people dead in their apartments. If people call 911, the medical care system is overloaded, and first responders might arrive slower. We are aware that beginning addiction treatment in the ED can help prevent relapse. However, emergency room physicians are still completely overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and may not have enough time or funds to begin addiction medications after an overdose.
Sadly, the ugly face of discrimination and stigma is coming out too, since reports are surfacing of police departments throughout the countries that are refusing to supply naloxone to patients who have overdosed, on the pretext that it’s too dangerous because the “addict” may wake up sneezing and coughing coronavirus droplets.
Intersecting Epidemics Means More Comprehensive Needs
What we have to do now is reach out more than ever to people that are struggling with addiction, and supply them with the tools, such as online meetings, so they aren’t alone and forgotten in this double tragedy of the Coronavirus and dealing with addiction. We will need to be sure that they’re getting the drugs they need to recover, they have access to clean needles if they’re still using, decent medical care, food, and a place to sleep — basic human needs.
If any good has come from the distress of the joint COVID-19 and opioid epidemics, perhaps it’s that clear, a bright light has been shined on the deadly social fissures — income inequality, poverty, lack of health insurance and access to health care, homelessness — which are the true societal determinants of health we’ll have to address as part of a successful response to future pandemics.
Addicts Are Relapsing During Coronavirus Pandemic
As the Coronavirus is getting, unfold, the planet is locking down, making millions of jobless and lots into loneliness. While social distancing is not easy for anybody, it’s hitting one set particularity hard. Individuals recovering from a substance use disorder find it tough to keep sobriety with their regular uprooted, and many are relapsing during the Coronavirus pandemic. A primary therapist said, Yes, we’re already beginning to see a rise in relapses.
These relapses are regarded as caused by the feelings of isolation, anxiety, and boredom that many are dealing with. Social support and active participation in the program both play a massive part in recovery. The lack of them,’ isolation’ and psychological distress’ could be significant ‘causes’ to relapse.” Various studies have demonstrated the connection between social isolation and dependence through time, showing that isolation is associated with worse treatment outcomes.
A study released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information stated that in the early recovery stage, this aloneness may be critical to the extent that an alcoholic/addict isn’t linked to other sober peers and ready to commiserate with them, appreciate each step taken in sobriety, or encourage them in precisely the identical way of responsible living. Social isolation also raised the risk of committing violent crimes.
Signs of Relapse
Relapses are common throughout the alcohol and drug recovery process, so common it is predicted that 40% to 60% of people in recovery have at least one relapse before attaining sobriety. Some estimate this amount to be as large as 90%. Throughout COVID-19, some people could be isolated at home alone while some are isolating from their families. Family members who live with a recovering drug alcoholic or addict need to focus on the warning signs of relapse in their family members to function as a support system.
Some signs include:
- Bottling up emotion
- Continuous lying
- Declining hygiene
- Poor sleeping or eating habits
- Stopping or avoiding virtual support meetings
- Talking to past friends who still use
What To Do If Any Friend Or Family Member Relapsed During COVID-19?
Those who tempted or near relapsing may begin relaxing on self-imposed rules and start expressing their cravings for alcohol or drugs. They might also romanticize prior substance abuse or say how they’re utilizing in a “controlled” way.
If you think your loved one has relapsed, give them compassion, and encourage them to the right steps. Returning to treatment might be the smartest choice. Drug and alcohol rehab centers continue to be open during COVID-19, to provide essential treatment to people who want it.
If you believe your loved one has relapsed and is withdrawing from you and other positive friends, remind them of your co-operation. Supporters can lead by developing a safe and healthy environment around the home, creating opportunities for honest and open communication, and actively listening. Stand strong and hold them accountable, but also provide encouragement and optimism. There are still choices for advice and contact during social isolation.
This is a significant challenge for people recovering from alcohol and drug dependence. It’s necessary to find alternative ways to get continuing support during this period. AA/NA and other drug addiction service groups have ‘virtual meetings’ available online. Additionally, there are other options to stay connected through social media and by phone or email.
Virtual 12-step meetings are an easily accessible choice to get support. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and In The Rooms are simply a couple of the numerous platforms providing meetings via webcam or telephone.
Preventing Relapse During COVID-19
If you’re recovering from a substance abuse disorder and are having a challenging time maintaining sobriety, know that you’re not alone. Counselors suggest taking care of your body by getting adequate sleep, exercise, and eating a wholesome diet. Keep in touch with family and friends, and do your best to stick to a program. The individual in recovery can benefit from keeping a structured routine as normal’ as possible.
They also advise people to consciously fight relapse. Recovering individuals can use different ‘tools’ to deal during this period such as: remaining virtually participated in the program, reading recovery-oriented books, practicing meditation and prayer, participating in healthy activities when possible, journaling ideas and feelings, finishing arts and crafts projects, being creative and remaining present.