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Coronavirus and Drug Addiction
There is a relationship between Coronavirus and drug addiction. The situation created by the virus has compelled many people to stay secluded at home. The loneliness that has resulted has led to an increase in the rates of substance abuse - a habit that often results in addiction.
Luckily, there are some things that you can do to mitigate the complications that arise during this period. If you have a risk of substance abuse and addiction, you need to understand the steps that you can take to ensure that you do not start taking drugs.
For instance, if you are a former addict, you might have a high risk of relapse due to the current situation caused by the Coronavirus. To ensure that this does not happen, you might want - for instance - to get into an inpatient treatment center.
Even so, there are some things that you need to look for while searching for an addiction treatment and rehabilitation facility. Luckily, most of these centers are taking safety precautions to ensure that there is no outbreak among their patients.
A great majority of them, for example, are quarantining new arrivals before they allow them on their campuses. Others are refusing to take in new patients from hot spots while many are keeping their staff on lockdown within the centers.
Addiction and the Coronavirus
If you are struggling with substance abuse and addiction, fellowship is a major part of the recovery process. However, the Coronavirus outbreak has caused social distancing to become the norm. As a result, addicts no longer have access to the fellowship that used to matter to their recovery - apart from those who get the opportunity to enroll in an addiction treatment center.
For instance, fellowship typically means that people meet physically with others in the recovery journey. In the NA - Narcotics Anonymous - program, people are encouraged to attend a couple of meetings every week. During these meetings, they get the opportunity to share their experiences as well as connect with others going through similar struggles.
However, since the outbreak, these meetings are become much fewer and far in between. As a result, they are leaving most of the people struggling with substance abuse and addiction without the immediate support that might be crucial to their recovery - unless they choose to get treated for their drug use.
Group meetings are vital to any addiction treatment program. This is especially true for newcomers who are yet to build a group of peers and a stable support system amongst fellow participants.
Since the Coronavirus broke out, most groups stopped holding and shaking hands at the end of each meeting. Additionally, most of these recovery meetings have started closing during the breakout.
Unfortunately, it is highly likely that the lack of these in-person meetings might leave many people stranded in their recovery journeys. Others might continue drinking alcohol and using drugs.
This is a worrying trend especially considering that research studies report that substance abuse tends to spike during times of emergency - such as the pandemic caused by the COVID-19.
The rise in substance abuse and addiction being witnessed at this period is also consistent with other types of disaster and emergency - including natural disasters like flooding, hurricanes, and fires.
In many cases, drug abuse and addiction in these situations starts because people are trying to cope with the traumatic experiences that they went through - or are going through - by turning to substances of abuse.
Even so, it is important to keep in mind that the federal government - as well as most state governments - have made addiction treatment an essential service so it is possible to enroll in a facility that offers these services.
Crisis and Substance Abuse
Research studies show that drug addiction affects about 21 percent of the entire American population at one point or the other in their lives. In all instances, it can damage the body and brain and lead to significant harm to the substance user.
But what does addiction entail? Essentially, it involves the presence of loss of control over the amount and frequency of substance use, cravings, and an ongoing compulsion to use and continue using these substances in spite of the consequences that arise as a result.
Unfortunately, the Coronavirus outbreak seems to have already started exacerbating the circumstances that create the right conditions for substance abuse and addiction. In most situations, this is due to the fact that most people turn to drugs to cope with trauma and stress. This is even though most of them understand that this is not the best coping mechanism available.
For instance, even though alcohol and drugs can help you feel more calm within the short term, they might eventually heighten your anxiety and fear - among other mental health side effects - over the long term.
These substances can also offer you some semblance of control. This is because smoking or getting high might make you feel much better about your situation almost immediately.
As you progress through tolerance and dependence, however, the substance you have been taking will start driving your cycle of stress and coping instead of the environment in which you are in.
Unfortunately, there is inadequate data at this point to show the effects of this pandemic on the rates of drug abuse. This is particularly true when you consider that we are living in the age of social media that has been connecting people to sources of information on a regular basis. Even so, it is possible to compare the situation involving Coronavirus to data that was collected on the effects of other significant disasters - such as 9/11.
In 2001, for instance, a survey reported that about 10 percent of all the people who were interviewed in New York had increased their rates of smoking. Additionally, 25 percent of all respondents reported that they were consuming more alcohol in the days and weeks immediately after the terrorist attack. Another 3 percent of the respondents said that they had increased their rates of cannabis abuse.
Harm reduction workers and physicians have now reported that the need for safe supplies of opioids designed to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths and other dangers is now more urgent due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Connections in the Time of the Coronavirus
Due to the Coronavirus, it is now increasingly difficult to connect with other people as a result of the social distancing measures being put in place. If you are enrolled in an addiction treatment center, you may not be allowed to have visitors or go out for support group meetings. Luckily, there are now new ways to connect - such as through the internet or on the phone.
As a result, many addiction treatment centers are trying to deepen the community spirit among their patients and their loved ones. They have also been providing clients with the best possible resources and information to get them through the pandemic - not only towards sobriety but also for their own emotional wellbeing.
However, this does not mean that the Coronavirus outbreak has not been causing people to experience an increase in the levels of stress and anxiety. As a result, many people are now turning to drugs and alcohol.
If you are at risk, substance abuse can cause you to develop an addiction. On the other hand, if you are in recovery from addiction, there is a high risk that you might suffer a relapse during the pandemic.
In case you are in recovery and struggling with stress, anxiety, or any other negative emotions, it is recommended that you reach out for help as soon as possible to ensure that you do not end up struggling with a relapse. Some of the things that you can do during the Coronavirus outbreak to protect yourself and your loved ones include:
- Seek out addiction treatment services if you are having a difficult time controlling your substance abuse
- Stop or reduce using any non-prescribed medications if it is possible for you to do so safely
- Take your prescription drugs exactly as intended and advised by your doctor
- Trying to avoid or reduce alcohol and caffeine
Coronavirus and Challenges in Addiction Treatment
The COVID-19 outbreak has created new challenges in addiction recovery and treatment. Even people who have been sober for months or years are having a difficult time maintaining their ongoing recovery.
The pandemic has been challenging millions of people struggling with addiction. It has also been threatening the progress that the United States has been making against - for instance - the opioid abuse and addiction crisis.
If you are in recovery from addiction at home, you need human contact to continue overcoming your substance abuse. This means that the longer that social distancing is required, the more likely it is that you will feel strained.
Doctors and therapists have been looking for ways to work with their patients by phone, over the internet, or in person. They have also been trying to keep their clients in treatment. Many addicts are now being forced to find new strength to stay in recovery.
Opioid addiction treatment clinics, for instance, are now choosing to meet their clients outdoors. Many others are offering longer prescriptions for buprenorphine (4 weeks instead of the recommended 2 weeks). They are doing this with the goal of reducing visits as well as lowering the risk of new infection.
On the other hand, federal health officials now allow patients to take methadone home - a drug that is commonly used to treat addiction. They have also issued emergency guidance to ensure that it is easier for addiction recovery professions to help their clients via phone even without getting written consent to share patient records.
When COVID-19 first got to the United States, public health officials had already started battling the drug crisis across the nation. Over time, many families have lost loved ones to drugs and alcohol.
With the Coronavirus pandemic spreading, drug abuse patients and addiction treatment professionals are facing new challenges. Luckily, NIDA - the National Institute of Drug Abuse - among other addiction fighting organizations have been paying attention to the virus without losing focus on addiction and the many lives that it claims.
The Overdose Risk
The COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic have also crossed paths in lethal ways. As a result, addiction treatment professionals at trying to strike a balance between reducing the risk of overdose as well as reducing the spread of the virus.
NIDA, for instance, has been expanding access to various medically assisted treatment options - such as naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone. This has been reducing the mortality rates from opioid overdose by over 70 percent across the nation.
However, the Coronavirus has made things much tougher. As a result, the risk of suffering a drug overdose is increasingly higher now than it was a few months ago. Some patients have even been overdosing on drugs like methadone due to the fact that they were not prepared to take the drug home.
Before the crisis, the federal regulations in place required patients who were on medication assisted treatment to receive their drugs at the treatment centers where they had a prescription. This meant that they had to report to a clinic every day of the week - about 6 days a week - during the first 90 days of their recovery. This routine served as a stabilizing and diversion force in the otherwise chaotic life of the client.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited federal guidelines. The only guide that state and federal governments across the country have given involves gauging how clinically stable patients are before giving them medications that they can take at home.
Addiction Treatment Centers
Although most addiction treatment and rehabilitation facilities are still open for patient onboarding and medication pick-ups, other syringe exchange programs and non-clinical centers have closed waiting for the Coronavirus pandemic to decline.
Even so, it is important to keep in mind that most residential or inpatient drug rehab centres as well as detoxification facilities are still admitting new patients. This means that it is possible to get help with your substance abuse problems.
However, you need to remember that many of the people struggling with addiction also have another co-morbid physical condition - such as suppressed immunity, low oxygen levels, and reduced breaking. This further increases their risk of succumbing to the Coronavirus.
Social isolation is a problem that has been contributing to the rise in the rates of substance abuse and addiction while also increasing the likelihood that more people will be taking drugs of abuse.
Luckily, many addiction treatment centers now have online support groups and programs in place to mitigate the anxiety, stress, and boredom that their clients - and any other interested parties - are going through. More are also still open and can provide you with the recovery services that you need to overcome your substance abuse and addiction.
The important thing to keep in mind is that struggling with substance abuse and addiction during the time of the Coronavirus can increase your risk of relapse. This is because your routine will continue getting disrupted while you put your life on pause due to the pandemic.
It is now possible to get help over the internet or even in person at some addiction recovery centers. The federal government has also made addiction treatment an essential service. This means that if you are struggling with a severe case of substance abuse, you should be able to enroll in an addiction treatment and rehabilitation facility.
However, you might have to spend some time in seclusion when you first get into the facility of your choice to ensure that you are not carrying the Coronavirus, and that you do not infect other people in the center.
Many recovery facilities have strict measures in place to ensure that their patients and professionals do not contract the disease. For instance, some are requiring their treatment experts to live at the treatment center until the pandemic improves.
Some of the factors that you need to consider while looking for a drug and alcohol treatment facility during the Coronavirus pandemic include but are not limited to:
- Find a center that quarantines off campus before arrival
- Get a center that ensures and expands access to medications
- If possible, only enroll in a facility that has waiting room precautions about cough etiquette, hand hygiene, advising people to sit at least 6 feet apart, masking and isolating infected patients, and more
- Look for a facility that uses group therapy models while respecting social distancing measures
During the crisis, many addiction recovery facilities have been implementing widespread disinfection of various surfaces like elevator buttons, stairwell handles, kitchen tables, desks, and doorknobs.
The staff members and patients are also being asked to wash their hands with water and soap on a regular basis, which many centers are making hand sanitizer readily available and accessible - even though it is considered contraband due to its alcohol content.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you can still continue overcoming your substance abuse and addiction even with the Coronavirus pandemic being reported across the entire country - as well as the rest of the world. Whether you get such help over the internet or enroll in an addiction recovery facility, it is recommended that you still continue looking for way to achieve a state of recovery while also reducing your risk of relapse.
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