COVID-19 – The Dangers of Detoxing Yourself from Alcohol and Drugs
The COVID-19 pandemic has seemingly turned the world upside down for the time being. It is quite tragic. Many are suffering greatly – emotionally, financially and otherwise. This is a particularly challenging time for those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. At times like this, addiction is a disease that often gets worse, not better. Stressful situations tend to exacerbate addiction, and this situation is about as stressful as anything most of us have ever experienced.
Self-isolation and boredom during these very trying times can be a trigger to relapse into drug or alcohol use. There are reports of a great many people relapsing back into addiction. Additionally, there are reports of many people in active addiction using more now than ever or seeking whatever they can get their hands on as illicit drug supply chains have been disrupted, and some liquor stores are running out of alcohol.
Addiction is a progressive disease. When someone relapses, usage escalates very rapidly. In no time at all, the suffering person is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. To combat the adverse physical, emotional, and psychological torment of withdrawal, the person consumes even more of the substance or substances. This vicious cycle spirals downward at a rapid pace.
Seeking help is tough
Many suffering addicts in this state, already paralyzed with fear, delusion and paranoia, may experience a brief moment of clarity and want to stop. But many will be too fearful to reach out for help given the constant barrage of COVID-19 news which is anything but positive and also extremely frightening. These individuals may try to stop on their own because they are simply too afraid to go anywhere, even though they are possibly already in a very unsanitary environment where the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is high.
Many have tried self-detoxing approaches. In fact, some have tried hundreds and hundreds of times. It rarely works as the physical and psychological torture of withdrawal is simply too intense and painful. Most only last a few hours and are back using in increasing amounts. In addition to this approach rarely working, it is incredibly dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms can be so intense that the suffering person may actually die. These people are at high risk of having seizures and other potentially devastating withdrawal symptoms.
Self-detoxing is never a good idea, but it is an even worse one now. For example, if the person trying to self-detox has a seizure or suffers some other calamitous physical event, it may require an ER visit. However, today in a great number of locations, particularly cities, this is simply not possible. Hospitals are being overrun by people with suspected or actual COVID-19 infection. Also, a hospital ER environment and hospitals in general are not exactly the safest place do be during this pandemic. These are the places people are going to be treated with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19! It is definitely not a time when ERs should be filling up with drug overdoses when that space is required to handle a global pandemic.
For those looking to detox, what is required are reputable, well run, treatment facilities set up to do just that. Additionally, this may be good time for the person to not only detox but to continue on with an entire recovery program if the detox facility offers a complete continuum of care, or in another facility that offers these services.
What to look for in a facility
When researching a facility, we implore you to ensure it is following the CDC guidelines as well as all federal, local, and state mandates as robustly as possible.
Here are things to look for when selecting a detox and/or full continuum of care facility for yourself or a loved one:
- Expect pertinent CDC Prescreening questions.
- Visitation is cancelled. If visitation is necessary, visitors 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 disinfected regularly.
- Staff members and clients have their temperature taken daily and this is monitored.
Now is not the time for anyone to try detoxing themselves, even if they need to go to a state-run facility to do so. That said, it may be just be the right time for those suffering with addiction to start their recovery journey.