NIDA: Opiates Epidemic Getting Worse During Pandemic

NIDA: Opiates Epidemic Getting Worse During Pandemic

The pandemic has caused a crisis for public health, and not all of the crisis is rising cases of the novel coronavirus. Overdoses and addiction involving opiates are getting worse, not better. During a time of isolation and uncertainty, many people who suffer from opioid use disorder have fallen between the cracks, causing a resurgence of the opiate epidemic. A new report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) discusses the dangers of opioid and other drug abuse during the pandemic.

Addiction isn’t going away, and for addicted people, the tools to get clean and sober are becoming less accessible. There is more than one reason for this happening. Some people who are new to recovery have slipped back into using drugs, while others have found it is impossible to get the help they need right now. Others who weren’t addicted before may have begun to abuse opioids to cope with the difficulties of the situation. Either way, the saddest part of this crisis is that the epidemic is getting worse, and there isn’t necessarily enough help to go around for the most vulnerable people.

Opiates, Relapse And Recovery

Many people who have begun abusing opioids are people who achieved sobriety in the past. The good news is that they know what tools are available to help them get sober. The bad news is that it is humbling and painful for many of them to go through the process again. In some cases, they may have to wait for detox space to become available. They may be able to hide their drug and alcohol use because people don’t see them in person.

Relapse is often a part of the recovery process for people with opioid addiction. A person who is getting high needs to know that they can achieve sobriety again. Relapse isn’t the end. For many people, it can be a way to practice a stronger recovery program and find lasting sobriety.

Many people addicted to drugs have lost access to community programs that have closed and doctors who administer Medication-Assisted Treatment such as methadone. However, telehealth and other therapies have emerged to fill the gap.

There are still tools available for people who need to find their way back just as there are tools for people who want to get sober for the first time.

Drug Use Adds Danger When It Comes to COVID-19

Opioid use disorders are far more dangerous for the active user during this pandemic. Addiction, like coronavirus, doesn’t discriminate against who it infects. People who use opioids have compromised their lungs, which are depressed when a person is using drugs. This is what can cause death during an overdose.  People who use drugs like opiates, methamphetamine, and cocaine also may be more vulnerable to heart damage.

Science shows that people with health issues are more at risk, and that includes people with addiction and opioid use disorder. A person who uses multiple substances, such as marijuana or alcohol, alongside opioids, maybe even more vulnerable. Coronavirus attacks the lungs, which already struggle and receive damage when a person is smoking or using substances to excess. Combined with alcohol or marijuana, the lungs can become infected more easily and the virus can do more extensive damage.

Many people with substance use disorders may not be able to wear a mask or keep it one. They can end up sharing needles, pipes, and other paraphernalia. Addicted persons are more frequently homeless, which can expose them to crowded conditions or outdoors in the elements. It is very difficult for a person who is addicted to socially distance or take good care of their health in these circumstances.

Getting Clean From Opiates During a Pandemic

While the type of help available to people who want to recover isn’t exactly the same, there are still opportunities to get clean and sober once and for all.

Addiction treatment centers are ready and willing to help you begin to get your life back together, one day at a time. You deserve to live a life free from addiction. Give us a call to learn about how we can help you get started on the journey to recovery. You can reach us at 619-363-4767.