Isolation a Struggle for Those in Addiction Recovery
As the country — and the rest of the world — battles an already frightening health crisis, many of those struggling with addiction recovery have been left feeling anxious and forgotten as the public is told to stay indoors and self-isolate — practices addiction experts, under typical circumstances, warn against.
“It’s a time of undue stress and uncertainty that impacts people with substance use disorders. It also puts those who are managing their mental health at risk for increased (substance) use as a negative coping strategy,” said Peg Sallade, a Substance Use Prevention Coordinator at A Healthy Lynnfield. “One of my biggest concerns for people trying to manage their sobriety is the social isolation. People in recovery really rely on the sense of community and support that comes with the counseling and groups they’re accustomed to.”
For a population so reliant on structure and positive social interaction, the idea of quarantines or “social distancing” can feel like disaster waiting to happen.
“It’s awkward, socially, to be apart when you’re really trying to come together,” said Dr. Heidi Ginter, Chief Medical Director in Massachusetts for Recovery Centers of America.
She added there are worries about the current lack of focus on the opioid crisis, which she said will ultimately claim more lives than either COVID-19 or influenza.
“This is turning on a dime because we used to be so focused on the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. There (used to be) this constant presence of awareness of substance use disorders, the need for treatment, and how deadly addiction can be,” she said. “All of a sudden, all of that press has gone and we’re focusing on social distancing and trying to keep everyone safe from this virus.
“And so it becomes, again, the forgotten disease and the forgotten population.”
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