Relapse, Addiction and the Coronavirus Pandemic
Social distancing, lack of human interaction, and trouble getting to the clinic for needed medications, are just some of the issues that individuals with an addiction are facing right now. Imagine doing all the hard work to get sober and then having the Coronavirus force you to shift everything you just learned. It’s hard enough for people that don’t suffer from an addiction (substance use disorder, as we are now trying to call it) and even mental health issues.
Imagine dealing with anxiety and being newly sober and panicked that you have no control over what is happening. You can’t leave the house, you have no idea when you can return to work, or if you will have a job when this is over. You have guilt and shame from the perils and havoc of your addiction and you finally felt safe and ready to face life. WHAM! You get hit with this stress and your first instinct is to — get high or drunk to handle the stress. So much for your sobriety. It feels hopeless now anyway.
Imagine having crippling depression and you can’t leave the house. You need medications and going for a walk is a lot of energy. You finally made enough progress to get out, exercise and enjoy the day when suddenly the world stops. You are told to stay in, and there is little to no human interaction. Your depression returns and worsens, and you are starting to have suicidal thoughts. There is no one around to stop you or help you and your only option is to call a Telehealth provider and talk over the computer. It is impersonal and doesn’t work for you.
These are the real things my clients are facing right now.
For most of us this is a nuisance, an annoyance or a shift in thinking. We are waiting it out, going online with our businesses and focusing on making it to the finish line. But not for my clients with mental health and addiction issues.
Yesterday I shared with you that my client, “Derek” was getting stalked by all of his previous drug dealers, even in the middle of the night. They can not make sales with stores closed (their safe haven hang out is gone), and they need sales. Derek, thankfully called his certified recovery coach and didn’t relapse. But with the pressure to stay sober in the time of the coronavirus not every addict in recovery is going to be so lucky.
Today, a mother called me in tears that her daughter was still using heroin and sharing dirty needles amidst the virus breakout. “Mrs. Smith” had called four treatment centers and they were not accepting any patients at this time. She took her daughter to the closest methadone clinic (at my urging) and they were closed. They had provided methadone doses for their current clients for a week at a time and had a sign that they were not taking any new patients at this time. So what does she do? She tried to reach out to a Medical Doctor via telehealth but was informed that Suboxone could not be provided without being physically seen. Her daughter may die before she gets help.
So, clients are being hawked by their ex drug dealers and clients that need help can’t get it due to the coronavirus having everything shut down.
What can we as a society do? Listen. Check in with everyone. Ask how they are doing and comfort them. Offer them sessions with a Telehealth provider and call us at 800 706 0318 ext 1 if you want an evaluation, coaching, counseling or help getting your loved one treatment. We will help you think outside the box and get the help you need.
Dr. Cali Estes