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COVID-19 and the Danger of Substance Abuse Relapse

By now, we’re certainly all aware of the havoc that the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking across the globe. It’s hard to believe that there is anyone who hasn’t been impacted in some way or another. From the shutdown of many major countries and the rising unemployment rates to the economic fallout and the actual disease itself, our world will never be the same.

Though these challenges exist for everyone, there are certain populations who are struggling to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic more than others. Certainly, minorities and low-income populations are at a far greater risk of succumbing to the illness. There are others, however, whose struggles may be largely pushed aside and forgotten simply because their issues aren't in the spotlight, and they are not a mainstream concern.

One such group includes those who are recovering from or have recently been declared clean of addiction. Many of the concerns surrounding these people aren't focused on being diagnosed with Covid-19, though there are certainly higher risks for those who are actively using. The greater worries stem from socially isolating, not gathering in large groups, and staying home from work.

Substance Abuse in America

The sheer number of people in the United States struggling with substance abuse, addiction, and recovery is staggering. Research suggests that the U.S. makes up nearly 30 percent of fatal drug overdoses in the world. Of those, approximately half are related to opioid use.

Making the decision to beat substance dependency isn't easy. This is especially true for those who have become dependent upon their substance of choice to manage chronic pain. Fortunately, some have found relief by switching to other less addictive and harmful substances like CBD. CBD is showing signs of great promise as an alternative.

There are many factors that go into becoming addicted and just as many involved in recovery. It can mean not only giving up the substance itself, but completely changing your lifestyle and the people you spend time with. For some, that just isn't an easy thing to do alone, and rehab in conjunction with a support system is the only option for real success.

Abuse and Recovery Meet Covid-19

Throwing a pandemic into the mix has made something incredibly difficult even harder. For those suffering with addiction and trying to get help, nearly every service they would turn to has been disrupted. Many clinics are only seeing emergency cases, large support groups aren't meeting regularly, and nonprofits are practically shut down in many cities.

For those who are dependent upon prescription drugs such as Buprenorphine or Methadone to manage their addiction, the risks can be significant. Many Methadone users must visit a certified clinic nearly every day to receive their treatment. This is due to a complicated web of regulations. This puts them at a greater risk of exposure to Covid-19 and at a greater chance for relapse if those drugs to treat the addiction suddenly become unavailable due to changes in state or national policy.

In addition, many who are trying to recover are struggling with the self-isolation rules that have put a stop to valuable support group meetings. The limited social interactions and boredom that come with a stay-at-home order can also serve as a trigger that pushes somebody back into their old ways. In-person support and regular meetings are critical parts of programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Getting Support in Trying Times
What is one to do to avoid the pitfalls of social isolation and addiction risks? People are scared of falling back into dangerous lifestyles that have previously stripped them of everything.

Many support groups are actively working to keep all members engaged, even if face to face meetings are no longer an option. Groups such as AA and Narcotics Anonymous are offering online options that allow you to get support from groups that are meeting around the country at any given time. Additionally, local members are organizing online meetings to create a sense of normalcy and routine in this new world.

Numerous treatment centers are doing their best to keep their doors open and to continue to help as many people as they can. Although there are some Covid-19 risks involved with visiting a clinic regularly, professionals are doing their best to provide support to anyone who comes in. Many are also providing online resources and lists of activities that may help you to stay busy around your home and to avoid triggers brought about by boredom and isolation.

Covid-19 is changing the way that nearly everyone is living their lives, and it has presented numerous problems and challenges. For those suffering with addiction and those who have recently recovered, it provides an especially difficult set of challenges. Although it may not be face to face, help is out there for those seeking it.

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