COVID-19 and Addiction – Fear and Loneliness
The COVID-19 pandemic has much of the world in a tremendous state of fear. Shelter at home policies have been implemented in much of the world. Most of us have never seen anything like this in our lifetimes. Life as we know it has changed dramatically; hopefully it is very temporary. Not only are people across the world in a great deal of fear, they are also experiencing loneliness.
This is even more difficult for the person suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism or both. Fear and loneliness are the hallmarks of addiction. In a time such as this, these feelings are greatly intensified for these suffering people. Many have no idea where to turn. They feel helpless, hopeless and fear the end is near.
Great numbers of people are losing their jobs and do not know how they are going to make it through this pandemic financially and otherwise. Assistance from the government will hopefully help at least temporarily.
That said, to the suffering addict whose mind is completely scrambled, such assistance will likely give them little, if any sense, of comfort or ease. This is because people in active addition are not capable of feeling a sense of comfort and ease without consuming ever increasing amounts of the substances they are addicted to. The added fear and uncertainty of this pandemic has triggered relapse for many previously in recovery while those in active addiction are consuming more and more addictive substances.
Alone in a crowded room
A person in active addiction often feels alone, even in a crowded room. But now there are no crowds permitted. In much of the world gatherings of 10 or more are not permitted. In many areas, that means there are currently no longer any in-person 12 step meetings and other support groups for addicts in recovery and addicts in active addiction seeking recovery to attend. Furthermore, suffering addicts tend to exacerbate their loneliness by isolating. Today, there is not much choice for most of the world but to isolate to some degree. This will compound the fear and loneliness for a great many of those suffering from addiction and even some currently in recovery.
Even in these trying times, there are good and safe places for these people to go. Well run and safe treatment facilities not only will provide the help they need, these places will help tremendously with the fear and loneliness they are experiencing – in a safe and clean environment. Even if one has no financial resources there are many state-funded facilities that can provide care for those suffering addicts at this time.
Perhaps paradoxically, these extremely difficult times may prove to be the time for many suffering addicts to get well and start their recovery journey. Work has been shut down for many, and there is not much else to do for a great number of people. But this can also be a recipe for disaster for those suffering from addiction as boredom is something they do not do well with at any time, let alone now.
We recommend that those seeking treatment should act quickly. Well run and reputable treatment centers are filling up. Many suffering addicts appear to be experiencing a moment of clarity, realizing this is an exceptionally dangerous time for them. Many are realizing that, in their current state, they are at a greater risk of potentially contracting COVID-19 as a result of their addictive behavior and actions. Many are also realizing they are at a greater risk of overdosing. Additionally, there is little or no medical capacity of any sort to deal with drug/alcohol withdrawal or overdoses as hospitals are overflowing with patients with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 infection.
Do the research. If private centers are an option for the suffering individual, they should try to find a place they feel comfortable with. If state funded facilities are the only option, they should call and try to get in as soon as possible. Well run treatment centers and government facilities are paying very close attention to and following all CDC, WHO, local, state and federal guidelines and requirements.
As suffering addicts and their loved ones make inquiries to various treatment centers, we recommend they ask questions to ensure these places are following these guidelines:
- Pertinent CDC Prescreening questions are being asked
- Visitation is cancelled. If visitation is necessary, visitors are pre-screened
- Pertinent CDC COVID-19 information has been posted in the facility and on-line.
- Staff have received information and training on COVID-19 preventative and containment measures.
- Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are asked to stay home if they are sick.
- Employees who are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor immediately to determine the next steps.
- Employees and clients should refrain from all forms of human interaction (social distancing) to the greatest extent possible.
- All facilities and transportation are being disinfected regularly.
- Staff members and clients have their temperature taken daily and this is monitored.
The suffering addict does not have to let his or her world be consumed with fear and loneliness during this global epidemic. There is safe and effective help if they want it.