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The Challenges Of Co-Occurring Opioid & COVID-19 Epidemics

There is a lot of warranted focus on the COVID-19 pandemic that almost made us forget we are dealing with the opioid epidemic. Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic has increased the risks of the opioid epidemic.  At the time of this writing, about 124 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, and almost 3 million have […]

There is a lot of warranted focus on the COVID-19 pandemic that almost made us forget we are dealing with the opioid epidemic. Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic has increased the risks of the opioid epidemic. 

At the time of this writing, about 124 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, and almost 3 million have lost their lives. On the other hand, the opioid epidemic has been a menace to the Us and the rest of the world for several years and counting. In 2018 alone, 70% of the overdose deaths in the US were opioid-related. 

People find it hard to get help, especially for opioid use disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic. It poses various challenges like isolation, low access to treatment because of movement restrictions, and more. However, you can still get help opioid addiction help during the pandemic. In California, you can contact a treatment center like Coastline Behavioral Health in Orange County. 

 

What Are The Challenges Of The Co-Occurring Opioid & Covid-19 Epidemics?

It is hard to get addiction treatment in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. People struggling with opioid use disorder and other forms of addiction face the following challenges:

 

Isolation Increases the Risk of Addiction

COVID-19 regulations call for isolation for and from people with COVID-19 to curb the spread of the disease. Isolation can easily cause loneliness. Research shows that loneliness increases the risk of addiction. 

People struggling with addiction need social support for faster and long-term recovery. Since we have to maintain physical distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard for individuals with opioid addiction to help. Loneliness is such a serious factor that Countries like the U.K. and Japan recently appointed a minister of loneliness

 

There Is a Higher Risk of Overdose

Isolation also increases the risk of overdose. As people stay away from support systems, they may fall deeper and deeper into opioid addiction. Their tolerance for opioids will increase, and they will use more to experience the intoxicating effects. However, opioids, including prescription opioids, have a high risk of overdose. 

Furthermore, emergency response teams may take longer to respond to an overdose case. It is because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases facing doctors and emergency staff. 

 

COVID-19 Has Made Some Social Determinants of Health Inaccessible

Social determinants of health are factors that influence the health risks and outcomes for a person. According to the CDC, they are everyday conditions where we live, work, learn, and play. 

People struggling with addiction have more health and socio-economic limitations, which makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19. A good example heavy smokers with lung or cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk of succumbing to COVID-19. 

 

COVID-19 Has Interfered With Treatment and Support Systems

COVID-19 disrupted the normal setup of treatment and support systems. For example, stay-at-home rules have caused people to avoid going to rehab centers for opioid addiction treatment. There are some important services at rehab centers. For example, they administer opioid withdrawal medication. The medication may consist of other slow-acting opioids like methadone which have a risk of dependence. You can only get the mediation from certified treatment centers or medical providers. However, the COVID-19 epidemic makes it harder for some to access this medication

 

Measures To Help People With Opioid Addiction in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The two epidemics are claiming a significant amount of lives. Addiction is also a disease. Therefore, it is important not to judge or neglect those struggling with opioid use disorder or any other addiction during this period. 

Treatment centers have taken the following measures to help people struggling with addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Online and Remote Meetings

Patients still need a support system and access to information on how to cope with triggers. However, physical meetings may pose a risk of the spread of COVID-19. Treatment centers now conduct online meetings to offer drug addiction support at home. You can now get on a call with your therapist, sponsor, or peers for any help. 

 

Relaxed Laws on Withdrawal Medication

There are those patients that are in withdrawal and need some medication to ease the symptoms. However, the medication may have some risk of dependence and overdose, especially some opioid withdrawal medication. Initially, you could not carry such medication home. However, the United States Government has eased the regulations for individuals who show stability in recovery. You can now carry medication to last you 14 to 28 days. Moreover, you can now prescribe some medication over the phone. 

 

Safety Precautions in Inpatient Facilities

Inpatient rehab centers also had to take some precautions to protect patients in addiction treatment. They have limited physical meetings, outings, and visits from outside. Moreover, you need to undergo COVID-19 screening before you get admitted. 

 

Treatment Centers Need To Observe Federal and Local Guidelines

Addiction treatment centers also observe some cleanliness. Furthermore, they have to observe CDC guidelines, local state and county regulations. For example, the staff and patients have to maintain high levels of hygiene. 

 

Conclusion

Two epidemics are happening simultaneously. The COVID-19 and the opioid epidemics are still claiming lives as time goes by. While the COVID-19 safety regulations are hard on all of us, it is harder on people struggling with opioid use. For example, social distancing calls for isolation and social distance. Isolation can easily lead to loneliness which poses a high risk for abuse, addiction, and overdose. Moreover, COVID-19 has disrupted normal treatment approaches. For example, physical meetings are happening at a lower frequency than before. However, you can still get support through online meetings. 

 

Opioid Addiction Treatment in California

Coastline Behavioral Health offers addiction treatment for various substances, including opioids. We offer comprehensive treatment to help patients overcome their challenges in recovery. You can also get treatment for various mental health issues like dual diagnosis

Contact us today at (714)841-2260 to get treatment for you or a loved one.

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