If you are like most Americans, then coronavirus (COVID-19) is on your mind throughout the day. It’s the most severe pandemic since the worldwide influenza outbreak of 1918. In the United States, COVID-19 is the deadliest epidemic since the onset of the opioid addiction crisis in America in 1999.
From 1999 to February 2019, nearly 500,000 thousand Americans died from drug overdoses. From the beginning of March 2020 to March 27, there have been 1,301 reported deaths in the United States related to COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases stands at 86,012 in the U.S., according to The New York Times. At least 553,244 people have tested positive worldwide, with 25,035 reported deaths.
Our nation has just surpassed every other nation in COVID-19 cases. While Europe is still the epicenter of the pandemic, projections indicate that the U.S. is poised to take that position and will likely see the highest death toll. Reuters asked Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization (WHO), if the U.S. could become the new epicenter of the virus; her response:
We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential.”
As the number of positive tests exponentially increases each day in America, all of our lives have changed in unquantifiable ways. Schools are shut down, while businesses that can operate remotely continue to do so, but an untold number have had to close. Millions are newly unemployed as a result of this public health crisis.
Education and the economy are of vital importance to be sure; however, they both pale in comparison to the value of a single human life.
COVID-19 and Addiction
If you have been following the news reports, then you are probably aware that specific demographics are at higher risk of contracting and succumbing to the disease. Older demographics and those with pre-existing health conditions are most susceptible, including individuals living with the disease of addiction.
Those with active alcohol and substance use disorders need to take extra precautions. The coronavirus attacks the lungs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out that tobacco and cannabis smokers are at particular risk; the same is true for vapers.
NIDA also stresses that people with opioid use disorder (OUD) and stimulant use disorder could be vulnerable too. Both drugs are detrimental to respiratory and pulmonary health. Men and women in long term recovery are not in the clear either. NIDA writes:
We know very little right now about COVID-19 and even less about its intersection with substance use disorders. But we can make educated guesses based on past experience that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping and people with opioid, methamphetamine, cannabis, and other substance use disorders could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications—for multiple physiological and social/environmental reasons.”
Years of heavy drug and alcohol use can do irreparable damage to one’s health. Many people in recovery have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases. Even those in early recovery – both the young and old – have compromised immune systems, which can worsen the prognosis if they contract COVID-19.
As we have pointed out in a previous article, many 12 Step groups have resorted to conducting meetings online. Video conferencing is now instrumental in protecting the recovery of millions of Americans, and digital meetings prevent people from coming into contact with COVID-19.
Coping with Anxiety and Stress in Recovery
The entire nation rightly fears contracting coronavirus, which is placing enormous stress on all of us. Anxiety and stress are known triggers for relapse in the recovery community. At PACE Recovery Center, we ask that everyone in recovery be extra vigilant about recovery during this time.
We know that many people have lost their employment and are quarantined from friends, family, and networks of support. Everyone is facing adversity, and it’s essential to continue focusing on your recovery. You can still practice the principles of recovery in all your affairs even when you are cut off physically from your peers.
Take advantage of the online resources available and reach out if you find yourself craving drugs and alcohol. The program gave you tools for coping with challenging emotions and situations; we implore you to utilize them at all times.
Together, we can support each other from afar and prevent countless relapses. We are all in this together and will get through it, helping one another and adhering to the recommendations of our public health officials.
PACE would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones. Our prayers and thoughts are with all of you, and we hope that those battling COVID-19 make a speedy recovery.
Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment for Men
During this trying time, it is still possible to begin a journey of addiction recovery. If you are an adult male living with alcohol, substance, mental, or a co-occurring disorder, then PACE Recovery Center can be of significant assistance. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and the precautions we’re taking to ensure the health safety of our clients.