According to the American Psychiatric Association, addiction is considered to be a relapsing brain disorder that is characterized by compulsively engaging in a behavior, regardless of the negative consequences, and is listed as such in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition). With each passing day more information regarding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is learned as it is extracted from real time experiences, however much remains unknown. As the spread of coronavirus surges through the country, individual and communal anxieties have not trailed far behind. Although addiction and substance abuse treatment were deemed essential services, the implementation of social distancing and stay at home orders across the country, created a challenge for the substance abuse and addiction recovery network.
Individuals in recovery from substance abuse and/ or addiction have worked to cultivate healthy coping mechanisms throughout their treatment that are relied upon during stressful and challenging situations, instead to turning to drugs and/ or alcohol. However, during these unprecedented times the tools learned throughout treatment may seem insufficient, as uncomfortable emotions, illness, and continued uncertainty skyrocket within America. Many of the once relied upon support networks for individuals in recovery were forced to shift their format, making participating in meetings less spontaneous and for some less accessible. Relapsing is simply a component of addiction, as asserted in the Psychology Today article, “Why Relapse Isn’t a Sign of Failure”. Especially during extraordinary times such as these, it is not uncommon for an individual in recovery to relapse.
Here Is What to Do
It is imperative to understand the options available for an individual in need of substance abuse support during the coronavirus pandemic. Substance abuse and addiction treatment facilities and programs are essential services that remain operational and follow specified guidelines and strict precautions to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. While it is always best for an individual that has relapsed to seek assistance as soon as possible, it is even more so the case amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
It is now known that contracting COVID-19 can lead to serious medical complications regardless of one’s prior personal health history. New research has also discovered that individuals with preexisting conditions are more susceptible to sustain severe medical complications when contracting COVID-19. Addiction is no exception. According to Addiction Center, any individual that has struggled with substance abuse and/ or addiction is considered to be amongst the “high risk” population and could suffer severe medical complications if he or she were to contract the novel coronavirus.
The nature of addiction and its presence in America has not changed as a result of COVID-19, nor have the available treatment options for individuals in need. Every person is different, as are the triggers that may lead to a relapse. Depending on the nuanced needs of the individual, any number of suggestions may be beneficial to assist in overcoming a relapse. During the times of COVID-19, an individual has many similar, if not the same options available to him or her prior to the rise of this pandemic. Any individual that has successfully completed a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program will have a clear aftercare plan. Many will likely include a relapse prevention component as well as suggestions for how to navigate handling a relapse. Examples of these suggestions can include: reaching out to one’s sponsor, attending a substance abuse support group meeting (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous), and/ or reaching out to a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment center. All of these resources continue to be available and viable options for an individual struggling with a relapse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777.