It’s harder to battle one’s hidden demons during crisis or stress. As more people get vaccinated, individuals have a general sense of hope that they may soon see the pandemic’s end. Yet, time in quarantine and lockdown has deeply impacted the most vulnerable people in society — particularly those battling substance addiction.
COVID-19 quarantines have led to worsening addictions and even the development of new substance use disorders (SUDs). It’s more important than ever to have access to the resources you need if you’re battling drug or alcohol misuse.
How Quarantine Has Impacted Those With an Addiction
In crises, those at-risk are often hurt the most. When people go through personal trauma, it’s not uncommon to use substances to relieve stress or anxiety. It should be no surprise that this global pandemic and subsequent quarantine hit those struggling with substance use disorders hard and in numerous ways:
- Increased health complications: Past addictions to drugs like opioids, meth and illicit smoked substances puts individuals at higher risk of developing a fatal COVID-19 case. Even mild symptoms can be severe for someone recovering from a SUD.
- Enhanced triggers: The underlying factors contributing to addiction are all amplified by COVID-19. While quarantine and social distancing are necessary, these measures can lead to isolation, anxiety, fear, anger or boredom — all known to trigger relapse even in those who’ve remained sober for years.
- Intensified withdrawal symptoms: The intense withdrawal symptoms elicited during quarantine could also jeopardize sobriety, driving individuals to seek drugs.
- Lack of access to treatment: From medication-assisted treatment that helps block cravings to therapeutic services, those who depend on these life-saving treatments may have fallen through the cracks during quarantine.
- Loss of support groups: Peer support and therapy are essential aspects of recovery, but many groups had to close their doors to comply with injunctions against gatherings of numerous people. While prudent, these measures left group members adrift, severed from the support they once relied on to remain sober.
Signs of a New or Worsening Addiction
Some people know well that they struggle with a substance use disorder. Others can fool themselves and others into believing that it’s one slip-up or their substance use is under control. Whether you or a loved one has never struggled with addiction before, or you had a mild SUD that’s now progressing into a more severe form, here are some signs that quarantine has led to a new or worsening addiction:
- Sleeping at odd hours
- Practicing poor eating habits
- Experiencing declining hygiene, such as skipping showers or not brushing teeth
- Having unpredictable or irrational mood swings
- Losing interest in favorite activities or hobbies
- Connecting with past friends who still use
- Lying to loved ones
- Bottling up emotions
- Skipping or avoiding virtual support meetings
- Neglecting work or family commitments
- Avoiding family or friends
What to Do If You Need Help
Addiction is common, and it’s not anyone’s fault. Getting help is the most important step. If you discover this crisis has intensified your addiction, or you’ve developed a new substance use disorder, don’t wait or hide it. Tell a friend or family member. Contact your general physician, or reach out directly to a professional addiction treatment center.
Even though quarantine orders are still in place, many addiction treatment facilities have modified their practices to comply with COVID-19 safety measures. At Gateway Foundation, we have taken all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of our clients and staff while still providing life-saving addiction treatment. If quarantine has revealed or deepened an addiction, we are here for you. Contact us today to learn about our individualized addiction treatment programs.