It is no question that the current pandemic has transformed the landscape of how people interact, work, travel and manage their health. While the transition into this “new normal” has been trying for people worldwide, it has been especially troubling for those struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD). Many of the precautions needed to protect yourself from COVID-19 directly negate the principles of recovery. This has left many people very vulnerable to succumbing to isolation, depression, negative behavior and risk of relapse. Understand how the pandemic has impacted those with alcohol or drug addictions and how to help them get through this unprecedented time.
4 Implications of COVID-19 on Those with Addictions
This pandemic holds serious implications for people with an SUD, including long-term socioeconomic and public health effects. There is no telling just how detrimental this can be to those struggling with SUDs and other mental illnesses over time. Here are four ways that explain how COVID-19 is directly impacting those struggling with an SUD.
Taking drugs or drinking alcohol usually starts with others, in a communal environment. Eventually, using easily moves into a more isolated setting. With the stay-at-home orders and ask to be socially distant from others during this time, this act of self-isolation can perpetuate substance use and cut those off who likely tried to help the ones the love overcome their addiction.
This pandemic has financially affected most people in the United States because many people are forced to leave jobs, enroll for unemployment or look for new work. Those with SUDs typically find themselves with limited financial resources, possibly unstable housing and partial access to resources they need to protect themselves.
Using drugs over a long period can often influence or perpetuate other underlying conditions, from mental health disorders such as post-traumatic (PTSD), anxiety and depression, to physical ones such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Often, when someone is abusing drugs, they develop what is known as a comorbidity, which is the culmination of the effects of multiple disorders happening within the brain and body. Since comorbidity is prevalent among those with SUDs, they are linked to more severe symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms could lead to serious complications, healthcare needs and even fatalities, especially if the person suffering requires consistent treatment and medication.
While telehealth services and treatment centers are working to accommodate the needs of many who don’t have access to the internet or phone, those with an SUD might continue to struggle. Face-to-face interactions with a therapeutic practitioner are often ideal for a person’s recovery. Some struggling, especially elders, are at higher risk because they do not have access to or utilize technology in the same way that younger generations do. Their primary access might be the telephone. However, even having access to a phone can be limited to some with SUDs. Additionally, if someone struggling has relied on in-person meetings, they might have limited social outlets to help them transition into the digital realms.
How to Help
The implications here are just some things that people with an SUD likely may experience during this pandemic. If you know someone who is struggling, help might best come in the form of checking in with this person on a regular basis. For a loved one who is older, help them figure out how to utilize technology so they can get in touch with various resources. Offer to go grocery shopping for them so they are less exposed to the virus and you can help get foods with more nutritional value than if they were to shop for themselves. Lastly, if you know your loved one really needs help, talk to them about getting treatment for their addiction. It could be life-changing and lifesaving.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected and disrupted the lives of many in the U.S. and around the world. Social distancing requirements and limited access to healthcare are especially disruptive for people with substance use disorders.
Not all hope is lost. New Hope Ranch is open during these tough times and takes every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of patients and staff. We offer a comfortable setting and connect you with staff that will work to create a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. If you or someone you love needs help, call us today at (737) 600-8565.