Change is always hard for those in recovery, and COVID has brought rapid and ongoing change, most of it negative. It’s no wonder that overdoses have hit new highs in 2020 after several years of decreases.
Not only has the pandemic stripped away the things that help to stabilize people struggling with substance abuse like jobs, family activities, and in-person support meetings, it has also added to people’s anxiety about their health and general well-being.
In addition, the ravages of addiction on the body can mean that persons with substance abuse issues can be at a higher risk of a severe case that could have long-lasting effects or even be life-threatening. As each new wave of virus cases hits, people may begin to wonder if the isolation, disruption, and anxiety will ever end, but there are things people can do to get help and support during this difficult time.
Positive Steps Toward Health
Social isolation and stress can affect self-care, which is critically important for those with substance abuse issues. However, the pandemic may also make it easier to practice good self-care because there are fewer outside activities going on that could disrupt those efforts. Creating a daily routine can help with focusing on positive steps like getting enough sleep, eating regular and healthy meals, and getting exercise.
What’s more, substance abuse treatment has continued during the pandemic, with treatment programs offering virtual groups and individual sessions in areas where virus spread is high. Inpatient treatment providers — including Harris House — are offering care in safer ways when a more intense level of care is needed.
For those who have completed formal treatment, virtual support meetings are available when in-person meetings are restricted. Calling a sponsor or recovery coach is a healthy step to take even if meeting in person won’t be possible for a time.
Putting Contingencies in Place
The pandemic has created special problems for those who are socially isolated. For those who live alone, it may be possible to form a “bubble” with a small number of people to get the benefits of personal contact and support when most people are keeping separate. It’s important to be aware of feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression and seek out needed help before they reach dangerous levels and to share them with your support system before they become critical.
Another healthy contingency is to have a dose of naloxone (Narcan) on hand in the home in case of relapse. Naloxone is used to reverse an overdose and has saved many lives. State regulations vary on its usage, so know the laws in your state.
Keeping emergency numbers close at hand and practicing how to call 911 with one touch on a smartphone are other important safeguards.
A Final Word
While there’s no doubt COVID-19 has caused many challenges for those with substance abuse issues, it can be a time to focus on getting healthy and on recovery if people choose to use their extra alone time in that way. And while resources may seem to have faded away, they are still available and should be used to the fullest during this time.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse, Harris House can help. Contact us to learn about the resources and treatment programs we offer during this time.