Were you too completely clueless when your loved ones addicted to any substance felt it very difficult to deal with stress? You also wanted to learn about how to bring peace and betterment to them. So, now is the golden opportunity to do so!
Effects of COVID-19 on people with a substance use disorder
We all are familiar with the ill-effects of the current pandemic on people of various backgrounds. Physical health and the mental health of the individuals have been affected to a great extent. Majorly the mental health of individuals with substance use disorder has been effected. Dr. Nora Volkow has also observed the same phenomenon. Moreover, he asks the researchers to be alert about the effect of COVID-19 upon individuals with substance abuse disorder.
As we all know that coronavirus affects one’s lungs. And when we try to connect it with people who smoke, we come to know that those who smoke and vape, even their lungs are affected. Therefore, he rightly points out that COVID-19 is very likely to impact them. Along with them, even the individuals who use drugs, alcohol, opioids, and individuals who use methamphetamine have been impacted concerning their respiratory system and pulmonary system. They suffer from substance abuse disorder itself and have other disorders simultaneously, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
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Stigma and homelessness
Haven’t you felt that people try to be as away from them as possible? They are also scared to interact. What is it due to? Volkow says that individuals with COVID-19 face a lot of stigma in society, which further leads to a decline in their mental health. As they are considered taboo, they are unlikely to receive treatment. Even the other outsiders are less likely to help them. Being homeless also increases their struggle. Lack of resources and medical professionals and facilities makes the probability of choosing the patients tested positive for COVID-19 rather than those with substance use disorder.
Challenges for people with substance abuse due to quarantine
As the individuals in the rehabilitation center and various NGOs engage in group activities such as support groups and sometimes by staying there, they receive peer support and motivation. As mentioned by NIDA, various challenges make it difficult for them to receive medication and support from their professionals, society, and peers. Stephanie Hutter Thomas also explains how not being able to help others makes them feel low. She also points out that they also feel hopeless and also experience despair due to being isolated.
Increased cases of relapses
If someone you know craves again for the substance, it is time for you to be alert! Jade Kenney shares that some individuals went back to their substance after being clean for two years. This is because of the situation going on in the world. She says that having the space of moving around helps them a lot to be free from their craving for the substances. When they are by themselves, it became very difficult for them to handle the stressful situation. She also mentions of an event where a client prefers offline meetings rather than online meetings.
She also considers the combination of poverty and substance abuse disorder as an obstacle to be connected with the clients too. In such cases, the situation can be improved by an organization sponsoring the phone and internet connection of clients who are unable to afford them. The introduction of a program based on faith named SMART program will be a better chance for clients who have issues with their faith. When one can change their thoughts, things will be easier very soon for them.
How society impacts stress?
Through an insightful example of her son, she has helped you shed more light on the problems faced by them due to societal treatment. She portrays the ill-treatment by society and its impact on his mental health. She further discusses the feeling of rejection due to not having any peers to play along. From her experience, she talks about the long-lasting effect of treated as taboo in society. Imagine how difficult it is to come up from an identity that has been forced upon you by society. This is what she expresses, too.
We are also reminded of incidents that make things worse for individuals with substance use disorder through her son’s breaking into a car while under the influence of a substance. Isn’t it painful to take up all the insults while one is sober for something one does when he is not in his/her senses?
Better ways of dealing with them
Kenney elaborates on how important it is to let them know that they are being loved and supported. It is necessary to understand that we cannot make decisions for them. We need to love and support them throughout their decision-making process and let them face the results of it.
Light of hope
Hutter Thomas shares a light of hope with us by sharing the events of developments such as educating individuals about mental health, online sources of information for professionals, and laymen to end opioid issues during such a pandemic where everything is possible through the technology. Further, she is also glad about the increasing number of individuals gaining knowledge through various programs. Even the pieces of training are also taking place, virtually letting them gain peer support and is also benefitting their dear ones.
The quick adaptation of the organizations to this uncertain situation impresses her. The telemedicine services will decrease the regulation of overdose and other issues that trigger stress in people with substance abuse disorder. Things will surely be better for them when we educate the community too. You will now be more equipped with knowledge and a better understanding to help them effectively.