Addiction in Isolation


After weeks of isolating ourselves to stop the spread of Corona virus. Many of US still haven't been able to settle into a new routine. I know I've had a hard time with it myself. That kind of disruption can take a toll especially for those who are in the process of trying to make a change in their lives like getting sober when I was first getting so far That was instilled in me and the head a regimen at certain meetings that I went to I went Kalma sponsor on a daily basis and once. That routine was set. It really helped it become second nature so that it didn't become a chore. That's Anthony Be. We agreed not to use his last name to protect his privacy. Anthony is an alcoholic who has been in recovery for seven years when he was in the throes of addiction. Most of his substance abuse took place at home alone. I know for me. I didn't need to be in a club or a bar or anything like that. I could just be in my house and stop off at the liquor store and And on the House with so many people isolating during this pandemic on their own. Anthony worries that those who struggle with substance abuse are especially vulnerable. So imagine someone who has just recently gotten sober and has been going to meetings and then all of a sudden now. They're just in the house. The place where everything happened here. Walking around that I'm looking oh That's where I used to put a bottle or oh look at the glasses. Anthony is no longer able to attend his regular alcoholics anonymous meetings in person so he's joined the meetings online over zoom. The interesting part about it for me was Having people check in from Australia the UK. Louisiana North Dakota Virginia. I mean it was all over and so- instantly for me I felt connected like okay. This is how we're GONNA do it. This is what we're GONNA do to get us through. You know this period. But here's the thing. Connecting online may not be enough for everyone doctrine. Nora Volkoff is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of health. Pretty early on Dr Volkov became concerned. About how this pandemic would affect those struggling with substance abuse. I started to worry it in February but it wasn't really until March that I started to recognize how devastating these could be to individuals that have problems with substance abuse as Cova. Nineteen patients fill hospitals all over the country. Doctor Volkov says it is imperative that healthcare workers prevent this stigma surrounding addiction from influencing how they administer care they are discriminated on the basis that the belief that people do this themselves and therefore you have to own the consequences to your own choices and in fact this is something that patients will tell you that. Have a problem with drugs and why they don't like to go see a doctor or go to the hospital because they are mistreated addictions that one of the most stigmatize. If not the most stigmatized disease. Fortunately she says there have been some changes to the way care is provided for those with substance use disorders down health has exploded and it has been incorporated into everyday practice so rapidly. Dr Volkov adds that treatment for drug addiction however has been especially challenging many of the Methadone clinics are closing their doors. On limiting the number of patients that can go in normally. Methadone can only be prescribed after an in-person evaluation and must be taken in the clinic but now some Methadone clinics are making it easier to get multiple doses of the medication and to be able to take it at home so these changes give us a different perspective of how we may be able to treat people that are addicted to drugs while also forcing us to see the issues that we need to solve address. It's not just illicit substances that pose a threat during this pandemic but legal ones as well because covert nineteen impacts the lungs the food and Drug Administration has advised that those who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk and have worse outcomes from the virus and while there isn't any data showing how the pandemic has impacted rates of alcohol use disorder. People do appear to be buying a lot of alcohol. According to Nielsen sales of Alcoholic Beverages increased fifty five percent in the last week of March compared to the same time last year. That may be partly as a result of liquor stores being deemed essential businesses in most states and while there has been some criticism of that designation. Dr Volkov points out that having access to alcohol could in some situations be safer for alcoholics. Eve you are addicted to alcohol. And you don't have access to alcohol. And you go to withdraw. That's extremely severe. You can literally die from alcohol withdrawal but Anthony be who's been in recovery for seven years worries about the temptation for people who are still struggling. My first instinct was like damn that sucks. You know. There's definitely some people out there that are suffering and I feel for them when I see Liquor Stores Open. I hope they realize that. That's not an essential but I don't know that that's going to happen. The World Health Organization recently issued a statement saying excessive drinking can weaken the immune system and they recommended limiting access to alcohol during this pandemic. Of course it's one thing to discourage people from excessive substance use during this uncertain time and another to make sure they have the support. They need to do so. Anthony has a simple suggestion for anyone who's currently having a hard time. Pick up the phone. If people are really into the whole technology thing just call people. It makes such a different. And what's what's interesting. Is that if I call someone? It helps them more than it helps me. I'm calling because I want to stay sober. But they'll say thank you for calling me because I was going through X Y and Z. And they might call somebody else. Dealing with addiction is enormously difficult under any circumstance. And we don't want to minimize this at all dealing with it during a pandemic adds a whole new set of challenges

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