Addiction and the COVID-19 Connection
What is the Connection Between Addiction and COVID-19?
From difficulty accessing necessary treatment services to the physical and emotional isolation of quarantine, COVID-19 has created treatment barriers for those struggling with substance abuse.
However, the impact does not only extend to those currently coping with substance use issues. Anyone can experience the effects of addiction from COVID-19.
But help can be found.
And, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, treatment programs are available to help those struggling with substance abuse, as well as co-occurring mental health issues that have been made worse by COVID-19.
The stress, financial insecurity, familial separation, and collective anxiety of the current pandemic had also encouraged alcohol abuse issues. Addiction due to COVID-19 is real, but it is also treatable.
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Understanding the Connection Between Addiction and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased global anxieties.
Throughout the United States, communities have entered and sometimes reentered periods of quarantine.
These “shelter in place orders,” though beneficial for public safety, have imposed unintended consequences for those seeking treatment.
Addiction COVID-19 is what we refer to those who have turned to alcohol and drugs or other forms of behavioral addictions to deal with the effects of the pandemic.
Many churches, schools, and libraries that offered 12-step program meetings have closed, leaving those support groups in limbo, while access to some forms of public transportation has been reduced.
These and other secondary effects of the pandemic are increasing in substance abuse and increasing the need for recovery services.
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Effects of COVID-19 on Addiction
For those struggling with addiction or working to maintain sobriety, COVID-19 has created unexpected barriers to success.
For example, closure of sober activities such as churches, libraries, gyms, movie theaters, salons, art galleries, and many other establishments have been closed due to the pandemic.
And while this may be inconvenient for many people, these places may have special meaning to those working to maintain sobriety.
Identification of fun, substance-free environments is often part of the recovery plan for those experiencing addiction.
Having a few safe locations to immerse yourself as an escape from substance cravings, or build new, substance-free connections; is important.
With many of these locations closed, yet stores are still selling alcohol and negative peer relationships are always readily available, some recovering individuals face an almost impossible challenge because of this addiction COVID-19.
For many individuals in recovery, especially in urban environments, public transportation provides access to meaningful activities, including healthy activities, counseling sessions, and support groups.
However, some of these services have reduced their availability.
As a result, many individuals without their vehicles are finding themselves unable to access needed physical and mental health resources during the pandemic.
It has long been known that fear has serious consequences for physical and mental health.
Depression, PTSD, insomnia, cardiovascular issues, and depression can result from extended fear, and cognitive issues, such as memory loss, impaired decision making, and lack of impulse control.
Whether the fear stems from financial concerns or concerns about illness, this fear, combined with isolation, is a perfect storm for the development of substance addiction during the coronavirus.
To suffer from grief during the pandemic does not mean that the addict must have lost someone to COVID-19.
Grief can result from almost any significant life change or missed opportunity.
And while grief can result in depression, it can also result in physical ailments, such as heartburn, high blood pressure, cardiac conditions, insomnia, exhaustion, body aches, and other physical symptoms. It can also worsen self-care, such as exercising, which can exacerbate physical pain.
In such an environment, people may begin to turn to pain medication to manage physical discomfort or antidepressants to cope with what they perceive to be a sad and lonely reality.
But no matter how dire the circumstances, there will always be those who can help.
Therapists and treatment providers understand our new reality’s dangers and anxieties, and they can help reveal a brighter future, even in an uncertain time.
Mental Illness, Addiction, and COVID-19
There is almost no denying that the impact of COVID-19 has much of the population in isolation.
Recent data indicates that roughly 25% of Americans are out of work, with an estimated 8 million Americans working from home.
The result is that many Americans are feeling lonely, isolated, and afraid. And the consequences could be dire for mental health and addiction.
Researchers have even discovered a link between isolation and high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and chemical addiction.
Furthermore, substance use is a well-known coping strategy for those experiencing a mental health crisis, such as depression, fear, and isolation.
However, the feeling of relief is an illusion, serving only to numb psychological pain while jeopardizing the physical and emotional health of the individual struggling with addiction.
As the addiction progresses, the substance used will rewire the addict’s brain through chemical changes. These changes, evidenced in withdrawal, lead the addict to lose their ability to feel normal without drugs or alcohol.
Attempts to quit the drug typically result in a depression far more severe than the one that motivated the initial use, pushing the addict back into addiction.
Thus, those who are turning to drugs to deal with Addiction COVID-19 are becoming engaged in a cycle of mental health issues and chemical dependency that may last far beyond the pandemic.
Another challenge posed by the isolation of the pandemic is the increased difficulty of family interventions for addicts.
Often, family and friends first detect the behavioral changes of addiction, such as mood change and withdrawal from normal activities.
However, the social context of COVID-19 has complicated the ability of loved ones to offer help to those struggling – or even to recognize the need.
In times of stress, odd or erratic behavior can be found in those who are not engaged in substance use, so at this time, the early detection of addiction is harder than ever before.
But, there is still help to be found. In addition, many treatment centers are exploring telehealth and other remote solutions to help those experiencing addiction during the pandemic.
Those who may be struggling with substance use or fear their loved one may be slipping into addiction, are encouraged to seek guidance.
Do you want treatment but are worried about how you can pay for it?
We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification.
We will work with you to determine how to move forward with the treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.
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How to Get Help
We know that substance abuse, isolation, and fear go hand-in-hand and that the pandemic has taken a toll on your mental health.
Resurgence offers social and medical drug detoxification, residential, outpatient, partial hospitalization programs, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counseling, and other customized resources to help you find lasting peace of mind.
As your partner in recovery, we can offer integrated treatments to address underlying thought patterns, prescriptions and counseling, group therapies, and many more strategies to help you learn, grow, and thrive.
Call Resurgence Behavioral Health at 888-700-5053 to schedule an appointment and let us show you that you are not alone.