Substance Use Disorder Community Affected by Covid-19
As the world adjusts to what will be considered a “new normal”, many communities are feeling the impact. Those who suffer from addiction to alcohol and drugs are having a particularly hard time, and for good reason. Now, perhaps more than ever, individuals are in need of addiction recovery resources.
Social Distancing and Its Effects on Recovering Individuals
As the worldwide pandemic continues to progress, it seems as though things are changing daily on a large scale. Social distancing and isolation measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent infection, are seriously having an impact.
For some people, allowing for distance from negative people and places is showing to be quite beneficial. For others, social distancing is forcing isolation and hindering recovery routines. Creating vulnerability within structured aftercare plans, Covid-19 is hitting recovery communities harder than ever.
With millions facing unemployment and the restriction of social gatherings, many are facing their addiction head-on and alone. Finding it even more difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, many are now more susceptible to two major health concerns. These include the risk of contracting the deadly virus, as well as facing a potential relapse. This is a crisis that none of us has ever experienced. So, needless to say, there are many concerns and challenges.
Unfortunately, although there are many rules to follow, there is no way to perfectly handle this national emergency. As individuals search for support in rehabilitation and recovery, it is time to remember why it is called a journey.
Now, more than ever, it is important to stay informed and take care of each other. Addiction recovery resources are available to contribute their much needed support.
People with Addiction are at Greater Risk for Covid-19
Addiction is a disease; however, people typically consider it to be more of a chronic behavioral or psychological disorder. Regardless of how one may classify it, the physical effects of substance abuse take a serious toll on people’s lives.
Those who suffer from a substance abuse disorder experience significant damage to their bodies during active addiction. This damage is more likely to result in a weakening of the immune system. Addiction treatment programs are designed to assess these issues and treat individuals accordingly.
Individuals who suffer from immune system issues run a greater risk of:
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Damage to the liver
- Circulatory illnesses
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Infections, especially regarding the respiratory system
A virus such as Covid-19 attacks many of these major functioning systems. Addicts and those in recovery must take extra care of their health to avoid infection. Additionally, if contracted, the medications that are used to treat the illness thus far can cause even further internal distress.
Organs such as the liver, lungs, and kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins from the body. When they receive partial damage or are unable to work at full capacity, Covid-19 can pose an even greater threat.
Smoking and Vaping vs. 2020 Coronavirus
One of the most common addictions around the globe is the addiction to nicotine. Time and time again, research has shown that smoking weakens the immune system. Not to mention the damage it does to the lungs and heart over time.
Smoking and vaping have shown to increase heart and lung diseases. This can be especially devastating when facing a virus that is, in itself, a severe respiratory infection, among other things. While some still believe that one is less likely to cause harm than others, the findings are still inconclusive. Individuals should still take caution and avoid potential health hazards, especially during these times of serious health threat.
Covid-19, a deadly pneumonia-like illness, is still currently being studied. The correlation between the debilitating effects that smoking and vaping contribute are also under observation.
Past substance use and active addiction may already be causing too much damage to people’s essential organs. The presence of these issues in combination with the presence of a coronavirus only increases the risk of life-threatening problems.
The findings of professionals thus far are causing addiction recovery resources to warn against smoking and vaping. So, it is best for individuals to avoid the possible dangers that come with smoking and vaping, especially now.
Opinion and Benzo Abuse is a Cause for Caution
For people who suffer from an addiction to prescription drugs or pain medication, it is wise to take extra precautions. Those who consume large amounts of painkillers are unconsciously doing irreversible damage to their heart and lungs.
Benzodiazepines can also alter how the brain functions. This, at the very least, places users at a higher risk of death if they contract Covid-19. Due to the negative effects and damage done to the cardiovascular system, the virus may be more severe for some.
One of the functions of painkiller medications is to reduce breathing rates. Opioids and benzos act in the brainstem and reduce oxygen intake. They also lower the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. When oxygen levels are low in the blood, this is known as hypoxemia. With hypoxemia and its symptoms, such as poor circulation and shortness of breath, contracting Covid-19 can be gravely problematic.
Brain damage could occur if the levels of oxygen continue to diminish in classical cases of opioid or benzodiazepine abuse. Along with developing a chronic respiratory illness, it can increase the likelihood of a deadly overdose of prescription medications. Covid-19 can even have similar consequences for those in recovery from addiction to such substances. While COPD and other chronic lung diseases are sometimes treatable, even those with full lung capacity can suffer fatality due to Covid-19.
Dealing With Fear
The fear and uncertainty that understandably fill people’s minds now may be affecting you as you think about your own struggles with addiction. Perhaps, you are unsure whether or not you should seek help at this time.
But, at Coastal Detox, we are here for you! Although social distancing measures are put in place to slow the spread, this does not mean that you have to face addiction alone. Addiction recovery resources remain available and will continue to do all that they can to assist during this vulnerable time.
Stimulants Enhance Deadliness of the Coronavirus
As many Americans prepare to rejoin the workforce after so much time away, people are struggling to keep up the pace. Those suffering from addiction to stimulants, and even those in recovery, can be easily tempted into a chemical “pick me up.”
While some will reach for the average cup of joe, others may go to more dangerous and extreme methods to get their fix. Enlisting in the help of drugs such as methamphetamine or even cocaine, substance users are doing more harm than good.
Aside from allowing addiction to develop and risk dependency, overdose, or relapse, stimulants are simultaneously damaging the heart and lungs. Whether prescribed or illegally acquired, stimulant drugs constrict blood vessels in the body.
Those with stimulant substance use disorders are at risk for potentially fatal pulmonary damage and hypertension in vital organs. Rehab centers often offer programs that work to help working individuals. They are sensitive and private while offering treatment for addiction.
Addiction recovery resources emphasize the need to be patient with yourself and to continue focusing on your rehabilitation. It is a stressful time for everyone, especially as the country does its best to reopen and allow people to get back to work.
Rehab and recovery programs are available to help work through stress and anxiety. Focusing on building a healthy and sober life will benefit you. In the long run, sticking to your rehab and recovery goals may mean making small adjustments to new triggers. But recovery is absolutely possible, and addiction recovery resources can help.
Other Risks Associated With Addiction During a Pandemic
During this time of national crisis, many people, especially in the rehab community are finding their healthcare options limited. Hospitals with maxed out capacity and clinics repurposed and unavailable, we are presented with new challenges on the medical front.
Unfortunately, because of the stigma of the disease of addiction, addicts are often lower on the list for assistance. Sadly, those who are seeking help during this time may not always get the care they need from medical professionals. People often incorrectly and wrongfully assume that addiction is not a medical emergency. Therefore, they see it as more along the lines of elective care rather than emergency care.
This also breaches out into the recovery community and those who still suffer from active addiction. Even without the threat of Covid-19, medical attention may have been administered with less consideration. Now, current addicts and recovering individuals could have to face these issues even more. This may especially be the case in terms of medical attention that is necessary after contracting the deadly illness.
Homelessness, Incarceration, and Covid-19
When discussing the impact of the pandemic, it is also important to take note of the number of homeless individuals. Many addicts are experiencing displacement as a direct result of their addiction. Also, those who call the street “home” may be turning to substance abuse as a way to cope.
With shelters being restricted and repurposed during the pandemic, many members of this community have found themselves without resources. This instability among an already struggling group is having devastating effects. It’s leaving more people susceptible to contracting the illness.
The same may be true among the prison population. This vulnerable community is feeling the effects in much of the same way. Close living quarters and inadequate medical and addiction care are all causing a dangerous upward trend in transmission. While many people work to address these dangerous living situations, resources are beginning to run thin and even deplete.
Covid-19 Sober Living Homes and Inpatient Programs
On the opposite side of the spectrum, groups of individuals working through addiction and recovery are also at greater risk. Often, people in treatment must stay within the same living space as other recovering individuals.
This can prove to be problematic if individuals do not have access to proper health care practices. Working with addiction recovery resources, you may be able to find alternatives based on your health and recovery requirements.
CDC guidelines, however, made it a requirement to keep inpatient facilities open. This allows the availability of additional addiction recovery resources for those in need. It is also an option for those having a particularly difficult time maintaining their sobriety. If you find yourself going down a path toward relapse, stay out ahead of it by getting the help that’s available to you.
Dealing with an Unfortunate Stigma
The stigma that surrounds addiction is certainly unsettling to most. This is especially true while many lack education on the specifics of substance use disorder. When encountering an issue with receiving treatment, it is important to have a reputable addiction recovery resource.
Those in the field are familiar with the disease of addiction. Rehabs in your area know the importance of privacy and compassion during these difficult times.
Treatment Options During Covid-19 Pandemic
As we face the challenges that are present due to social distancing requirements, many find themselves in unique situations. This is certainly true for many who are seeking addiction treatment or working through recovery. For those just beginning their recovery journey, things such as quarantine and self-isolation may interrupt this process.
Due to the number of community members who were facing an interruption in their treatment, those in authority are taking action. Government agencies are stepping in to assist. Their intervention allows for greater access to medications and treatment options, as well as supportive services during Covid-19.
Though because of the measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus, many still face relapse alone and in isolation. Limitations on physically attending sober groups increase this risk. There is a tether to sober socialization and peer-related activities implemented in many recovery aftercare plans.
While it may not yet be possible to attend a meeting in person, virtual interaction is always an option. For those with internet access, there is an option to attend meetings online with others. Individuals without these resources can reach out to addiction recovery services for options on getting treatment over the phone.
Covid-19 Makes Getting Emergency Medical Attention a Challenge
Unfortunately, the difficulty of acquiring certain medications during the pandemic poses a very real issue for millions. Without personalized supervision, it is much more difficult to regulate whether these medications are being used properly.
Due to the way addiction affects the brain, the temptation to abuse any substance available remains a possibility. In order to fulfill the oath of “do no harm,” doctors and physicians are reluctant to prescribe without prior assessment. This leads to many addicts having to face detox and rehabilitation without the assistance of crucial intervention.
When an addiction to a drug such as heroin or other opioids is present, there’s always a chance of overdose. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is in high demand in the United States and availability can be an issue. Being in isolation while facing the possibility of relapse can certainly lead to dangerous results.
This is a problem for those who would otherwise have access medications, such as suboxone or Narcan, to assist them. In the event of relapse, the body may react differently to substances than it had previously. The risk of deadly overdose is further increased due to these alterations.
Emergency rooms and EMT’s are at capacity. Those seeking treatment for an overdose may not receive the lifesaving care they need in time. Additionally, medications that could be helpful to some may not be administered right away, which can result in fatality.
Staying Safe and Maintaining Your Sobriety During a Pandemic
There are many restrictions on what individuals can do at this time. However, there are also means of staying safe and remaining healthy and sober. Addiction recovery resources point out some helpful tips to maintain wellbeing and reinforce recovery goals:
- Follow the set guidelines put in place according to the Center for Disease Control.
- Inform your doctor of your concerns regarding any effects substance abuse may have on your risk of illness.
- Call your doctor immediately if you notice you are experiencing symptoms or if you have been in contact with an individual that has tested positive for Covid-19.
- Those currently undergoing treatment for substance abuse should stay in contact with addiction treatment professionals.
- Continue following your rehabilitation plan and avoid as many triggers as possible.
- Develop new coping strategies and keep busy to avoid unnecessary stress.
- Enlist in the help of available virtual recovery meetings, if possible.
- Speak with a licensed therapist or physician if you are experiencing signs of another mental illness such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or PTSD.
- Do your best to remain positive and keep track of negative emotions that may impact your wellness and sobriety.
In times of crisis following a global pandemic, it is normal to feel uneasy. Addiction recovery professionals understand the difficulty during the uncertainty. Keep in mind that you are not alone. Eventually, adjustment and change will become more of a reality in your life!
Remind yourself of the importance of remaining sober and how it benefits you daily. If you find yourself facing relapse or temptation, get in contact with a local facility that offers addiction recovery resources. Discuss potential avenues for substance abuse treatment.
Helping Someone You Love During the Pandemic
Being away from people you love in order to maintain proper social distance can make it difficult to provide support. Be aware that the increase of stress and change of routine may be very difficult for those in recovery. Stay aware of the warning signs of relapse.
Even though you may not be able to be there physically, it is good to reach out and remind them of your presence. It can be helpful to explore new means of coping to lower the amount of stress they are under. If you begin to notice that rehabilitation treatment efforts are diminishing it is important to make time to discuss this with them.
Subsequently, if you notice that someone close to you has relapsed, take action. Get them in contact with addiction recovery resources that can assist in getting them back on the path to sobriety.
Zoom meetings are currently being offered by this organization. This includes peer-specific meetings for comfortable conversation and individual consideration.
This website includes a list of available options for individuals to utilize either over the phone or in virtual sessions.
NIAAA’s Alcohol Treatment Navigator
This outlet includes valuable information on how to get treatment for those suffering from alcohol addiction using telehealth, as well as alternate online applications.
This nonprofit organization can help you get set up with virtual meetings while in this time of crisis. They offer a wide variety of options and time frames available to allow for better attendance.
This is a top-ranked detox and rehabilitation facility taking cautious and preventative measures to ensure health and safety for detox and inpatient treatment. We are available for their services throughout the pandemic for those in need.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Regardless of where you are in your recovery journey, the process isn’t over. If you are maintaining good health and sobriety, keep up the great work. If you are suffering in the aftermath of a relapse, it is time to get back up and try again. Addiction recovery resources are available to you in your time of need.
Coastal Detox can help you get back on track. Our team can also provide assistance as you stay the course of sobriety through this global pandemic known as Covid-19. Reach out today to find out what we have to offer. Stay in touch and discover rehab options that can be of help during this time of crisis.