COVID-19 has made the past couple of years difficult for everybody in the United States … and around the globe. The pandemic created limitations on activities that promote resilience, like physical activity and social interactions. Such activities have either been unsafe to engage in or made more difficult to participate in, compounding the issues that substance-addicted individuals are afflicted by.
As a result, stress has been rising for everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that by June 2020, 13% of Americans stated that they had either started or increased their substance use to cope with stress or other emotions related to COVID-19.
For Those Struggling
For those struggling with addiction, the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially challenging. For these people, the experience of the pandemic has exacerbated problems that they have already faced.
Looking for the money to get alcohol and drugs is likely to have been more difficult. Further, alcohol and drugs may have been less readily available, and their already felt isolation may have increased. Taking a closer look at how COVID-19 has impacted society and those struggling to manage their substance abuse can help those in need seek the necessary care.
Isolation, Mental Health, and Addiction During COVID-19
People who are addicted to substances often become isolated. They may want to keep their substance abuse a secret or may have lost friends due to their behaviors. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made isolation worse.
Isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and sadness, which may perpetuate substance abuse. As a person attempts to deal with challenging feelings, they may turn to what they know will immediately help cope with these emotions: drugs and alcohol.
Unfortunately, substances only qualm challenging feelings for a moment. Once the effects of drugs or alcohol wear off, those feelings are still there. As individuals attempt to cope over and over again, they get stuck in the vicious cycle of addiction.
Addiction and COVID-19 Risks
Substance use disorders are on the list of underlying conditions associated with high risk for severe COVID-19 illness. In September 2020, electronic health records from more than 73 million patients at 360 hospitals in the United States were analyzed. From these records, it was found that while people struggling with addiction made up only 10.3% of the sample overall, they accounted for 15.6% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Those struggling with addiction are more likely to contract COVID-19 due to the various effects drugs and alcohol have on the body. People with underlying medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, or serious heart conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Unfortunately, substances can cause many of these effects.
Some examples of addiction and COVID-19 risks include:
- Stimulants can cause acute health problems, such as stroke, heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and heart or lung damage.
- The use of opioids can cause slow breathing and can even result in ineffective breathing.
- The use of drugs by smoking or vaping can make chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and other lung conditions worse.
There has been a rise in overdoses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) noted that during the first months of the pandemic, there was an 18% increase in overdoses nationwide compared with the same months in 2019. This grim trend continued through 2020, with over 40 states acknowledging increases in overdoses from opioids.
While stats are not out yet for 2021 as of writing, the trends are likely to continue.
What Can Be Done for Overdoses?
If an individual has become addicted to drugs or alcohol during the pandemic, there are steps that they can take to make these times safer for themselves and those around them. Keeping signs of overdose in mind can help save somebody before it is too late.
If opioids are being used, it is vital that naloxone is on hand. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that attaches to opioid receptors and reverses and blocks the effects of other opioids. When someone overdoses, naloxone can quickly restore normal breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped.
Whenever an overdose occurs, 911 should be called immediately. Although overdose symptoms may differ between substances, common overdose signs to look out for include:
- Passing out or an unresponsive loss of consciousness
- Deviations from normal body temperatures
- Skin color changes (i.e., blue tint if a respiratory depressant was used, flushed skin after cardiovascular overstimulation)
- Abnormal breathing
- Fast, slowed, or irregular pulse
COVID-19 has significantly impacted those struggling with substance use, causing an increase in substance use and overdoses. If you or a loved one is currently struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, then the time to get help is now.
With DetoxNearMe.com, you will be met with a variety of quality resources to treatment facilities and treatment programs concerning detox nationwide.
With us, you can always have confidence in knowing that you can find a quality local treatment facility that will work to meet your needs. We can also help you find a facility that has gone through the necessary steps to ensure that they are safe in following the rules and guidelines presented as a result of COVID-19.
No matter the challenges the pandemic has created, there is always help available near you. Learn more and begin your journey today by reaching out to DetoxNearMe.com today.