The Impact of COVID-19 On Addiction and Recovery
by James Egidio
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for many people, and that includes people who are suffering from addiction and in recovery. These people are unable to continue the treatment that has helped them stay clean and sober. Fortunately, there are ways to help these people that do not overstep the guidelines set forth by the CDC – online substance abuse counseling. A recovery coach is available online to help people who are struggling during their recovery because of COVID-19. For more information on this option and why it’s so important during this time in our life, keep reading.
COVID-19 and Addiction
The news has been dire. More people are getting sick, and more people quarantined. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, and they aren’t sure if necessary medical supplies will last. Unfortunately, the nation’s widespread addiction epidemic has taken a backseat to media concerns, but those who suffer from chemical dependence are still suffering.
With millions of Americans either suffering from addiction or recovering from it, the triggers that lead to relapses are plentiful. Isolation and confinement often lead to more issues for those suffering from past traumas. To make matters even more complicated, social distancing guidelines are disrupting treatment options for people who are seeking help.
With so much chaos and an unknown future, the impacts of COVID-19 are hitting the entire population hard. As a vulnerable demographic in today’s society, many people with addiction are at higher risks of drug use AND complications if the virus is not contained.
What are the impacts of COVID-19 on addiction and recovery? What is being done to ensure those who are seeking treatment or help can overcome the inner battle of addiction while staying safe in the time of this pandemic?
COVID-19 and the Risks for Addicts
Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have underlying medical symptoms either as a result of or before developing their addictions. As stated, people who are more susceptible to the fatal effects of the Coronavirus are those who have medical conditions that diminish the immune system or their lungs.
The Health Risks
These health risks are higher among patients who are homeless, dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs, and live in poverty. Many addicts often find themselves in situations that make them more likely to contract the virus.
Those who have damage to the lungs from smoking tobacco or marijuana are more at risk of having severe complications from the virus. Opioids also increase a patient’s likelihood of having severe health complications from this new virus. As Opioids slow breathing, users may have fatal consequences of the virus.
Increased Risk of Exposure
As the media has stated several times, social distancing is essential to slow the spread of the virus. For people with addictions who are currently in treatment programs, there is a higher likelihood that they are coming in contact with people in close quarters. It may be incarceration, a treatment facility, a medical facility, or even recovery meetings.
Another preventative measure is regular hygiene that stops the virus.
With so little resources available already, anyone with a lower income will not have proper access to the necessary cleaning supplies. From handwashing to hand sanitizers, these supplies can offer some protection against the virus.
Whether it’s coming into contact with others who have been exposed or lacking necessary supplies to keep them safe, addicts are likely to contract the virus. If this happens, medical care may not be available to save each victim.
Further on the Fringes of Society
Stay-at-Home orders are being issued countrywide. This means that individuals who are not leaving their house for necessities can be fined or incarcerated in some cases. It is difficult to overcome addiction alone and even more challenging to do so under immense pressures.
For people with addictions who are homeless or those who leave home to purchase alcohol or drugs, facing fines and penalties may serve only to oppress them further.
Recovering in a Time of Panic
In some ways, recovery options have become simpler since the onset of the Coronavirus. Digital meetings and conference calls make it easier than ever before to join a meeting and get help. Anyone with internet access can benefit from these meetings and outreach programs.
In many other ways, it can be more difficult all be it more important during the global health crisis. As workplaces close, families are stuck in homes together for long periods, and businesses (such as gyms, coffee shops, etc.) close, people in recovery may find it difficult to channel their needs into positive outlets.
Under insurmountable stress and increased anxiety due to changes in society, people in recovery may find it difficult to avoid relapse. There are resources and options available for those overcoming addiction.
Non-profit organizations such as the Recovery Coaching Alliance are pulling together to offer additional resources such as free online addiction counseling and qualified recovery coaches.
Even during the crisis, healthcare providers haven’t forgotten about the needs of those addicted to substances. Ingenuity and technology are making recovery possible. There are free counseling options online available to those who are struggling.
Family and Friends
Relying on others for support is vital to recovery and overcoming addictions. Even when the country is in a healthy state, this is true. The first option a recovering addict has is to reach out to someone they trust. Discussing feelings and temptations with a person who cares may be helpful.
Both AA and NA are planning online meetings. Using a smartphone or computer, anyone who’s overcoming addiction can still communicate with others. Whether you’re in recovery now or you know that you need to seek treatment, online addiction counseling recovery meetings are being held all over the country.
Treatment facilities are still taking patients. It’s important to note that staff in these inpatient facilities will not admit anyone who has the Coronavirus or symptoms of it. This is done to protect the existing patients and staff and help those within the facility.
It’s also important to mention that anyone who checks into a treatment facility needs to be prepared not to see family for a while. Treatment facilities are limiting visitors, which includes family members of patients. Phone calls and video calling is going to be an excellent resource for anyone who seeks inpatient treatment.
Since the outbreak and changes to society, government officials have released restrictions on doctor’s abilities to write prescriptions. New guidelines mean that doctors can issue prescriptions for those suffering Opioid addiction.
Offering medical help and support for those recovering from addiction is still possible in times of crisis. As stated above, it’s not only possible to overcome addiction right now; it’s also more critical.
Article courtesy of recoverycoachingalliance.org