Health experts are warning that people who are in recovery from substance abuse might be facing elevated levels of risk given the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures enacted at the municipal, state, and federal level to attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
Earlier this month, we touched on addiction during a pandemic. Specifically, we discussed the ways in which addiction treatment might be affected by the viral outbreak. Some treatment programs, such as methadone clinics, require that patients arrive daily to obtain doses of much-needed medication to aid their recovery, yet for those who may be under orders to quarantine due to exposure, those who are currently sick, or those caring for a loved one who is ill, face serious obstacles to obtaining this medication.
Now some health experts are speaking out on the risk that the pandemic could pose to individuals who are in recovery. According to Denny Kolsch, the founder of a Florida mental health and addiction treatment facility, “The message we're receiving is stay away from people. Isolate. Don't be around people, and [for] people that are in recovery, that's like a recipe for disaster.”
Kolsch and other professionals have reported a significant increase in relapses and near-relapses in the time period that social distancing protocols have been put into place. Kolsch reports having one patient relapse on opioids after losing his job when his place of work was ordered to close. Dr Elie G Aoun, the vice-chair of the American Psychiatric Association's council on addiction psychiatry, reported that a patient relapsed (also on opioids) in an attempt to abate the feelings of intense isolation brought on by social distancing.
Professionals point to the things that recovering addicts rely heavily on when maintaining sobriety: their community and their routine. Without the ability to exercise in a gym, have coffees with friends or sponsors, or attend an in-person group meeting, recovery could become much more difficult. Sober living homes are also struggling to fulfill their mission; a Manhattan-based facility reported facing obstacles in keeping their residents busy throughout the day when having to deal with a shelter-in-place order.
Some support groups have moved online, and many counselors and therapists are expanding their online treatment options. This has been a helpful option for some, but many are still without the resources necessary to take advantage of these virtual options.
Seattle Drug Crime Defense Attorney
Recovering from addiction is a daunting process, even under the most ideal circumstances. Even in progressive cities such as Seattle, our drug law and policy can be more punitive than treatment-focused. If you or someone you love is facing drug-related criminal charges and struggling with addiction, the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney can take the burden of the court process off of your mind, and allow you to focus on your recovery.