The past few months have been trying for everyone in many ways. We’re facing unemployment, shelter-in-place orders, socializing only through a computer, and an uncertain future. All these factors and more are difficult to deal with, and they might bring up some emotions that could trigger a relapse. If you struggle with addiction, now is an especially important time to remember your coping mechanisms.
It may be tempting to return to drugs or alcohol in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Many are struggling with boredom, isolation, and stress. Now, it is more important than ever to remain on the path of recovery. Not only have personal lives been upended, but hospitals in many areas are overfull and struggling.
Although it might seem like the perfect excuse to use, there are many reasons why using can make the coronavirus pandemic panic even worse. Here are a few facts about the situation that explain how you can benefit from not using, even in these stressful times.
Alcohol and Drugs Lower Your Immune System
With the coronavirus spreading across the country, it is best to do everything we can to boost our immune systems. Exercise, healthy food, and drinking lots of water are great ways to keep your immune system healthy.
There are activities and food that can hurt your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses, and making it harder for your body to recover. Alcohol is one of those habits, among others, like smoking and not getting enough sleep. Drinking can directly impact your body’s ability to fight off the coronavirus.
Alcohol can also damage the cells lining the lungs, which the novel coronavirus is now known to attack. Inhaling smoke, whether it be tobacco or other drugs, also causes damage to the lungs.
Long-term alcohol abuse makes patients more susceptible to disease because it interferes with the gut biome, which is an essential component of a healthy immune system. It can also interfere with the absorption of critical vitamins and minerals, such as zinc and Vitamin A, B, C, and E.
By maintaining your sobriety, you can help your body be more prepared to fight off illness.
As well as causing harm to your lungs, sharing drinks and needles increases your potential exposure to COVID-19. If your lungs have already been damaged by drug or alcohol use, it’s important to avoid activities with a higher risk factor. For example, going to bars is classified as a high-risk activity by the CDC.
Withdrawal or Coronavirus?
Withdrawal from opiates is accompanied by many symptoms, including nausea, headache, fever, and muscle pain. In the weeks following, someone might experience tiredness, body aches, and sweating. Many of these symptoms are similar to those of the novel coronavirus.
If withdrawal symptoms are complicating the issue, it becomes harder to diagnose the problem, and therefore harder for you to get the correct type of help. In addition to muddying the waters, it can cause anxiety making it more challenging to determine the cause of a symptom.
Maintaining your sobriety means that if you develop a fever, there are fewer possible causes, and it will be easier for your doctor to determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. The quicker they can diagnose you, the sooner you can receive treatment. If you contract coronavirus, being in withdrawal can also hurt your body’s ability to heal and recover from the virus.
Drugs Exacerbate Mental Health Issues
It is crucial in times of crisis to keep an eye on your mental health. The coronavirus pandemic panic has resulted in a nationwide increase in anxiety, depression, and stress. Many feel tempted to turn to alcohol as a release for these feelings, but in a lot of cases, alcohol exacerbates the problem.
Alcohol functions as a depressant, and the more alcohol you drink, the more depressed it can make you. In addition, if you already struggle with mental health issues, alcohol can interact badly with your medicines and cause them to be less effective.
Alcohol is not the only drug that can make mental health issues worse. Drug use can increase anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, and many other problems. Although turning to your addiction might seem like an easy answer, it can make the pandemic harder to deal with and create more problems than solutions.
Using Alone Is Dangerous
In addition to increasing depressive episodes, alcohol and drug use can result in dangerous physical reactions. If you have an emergency while isolating alone, it is difficult for a loved one to call for help. In the event of an overdose, the user is more likely to receive medical attention if they are with others.
It is also easier to return to sobriety with help from friends, doctors, or loved ones. In isolation, it can be hard to access that help without risking your health. It is important to remain in contact with your support system through video chat, text, and phone calls.
Avoid Hospitals Whenever Possible
Hospitals across the country are dealing with an influx of patients suffering from coronavirus. Elective operations have been canceled, and standard doctor appointments have been postponed or moved to a virtual setting like telemedicine.
Using puts you at a higher risk of needing emergency medical care, either from overdosing or alcohol poisoning. For the time being, it’s better to avoid the emergency room, where you are more likely to come into contact with an infected person. By maintaining sobriety, you can reduce your contact with others and help the health system out as well.
The year 2020 has been tough, full of uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and panic. For many in recovery, these are all things that could trigger a relapse. If you are tempted to use, get help today at Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers. We can help you get back on track and manage your triggers so that you can stay sober throughout this challenging time.
Native of Moldova, Dr. Zhitar is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine as well as Internal Medicine and completed his training at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA in 2000.