How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Addiction Recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic had and still has many Australians stuck inside, working from home and missing social interaction. This isolation wears on most people over time. For those in treatment for drugs or alcohol addiction, the COVID-19 pandemic presents even more challenging circumstances.
The pandemic’s forced lockdowns can exacerbate pre-existing drug and alcohol problems or cause new addictions to surface. The conditions – high stress, confinement and boredom – are ideal for people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Furthermore, many people engaged in drugs and alcohol counselling before the lockdown orders were forced to pursue recovery coaching online, which lacks the structure and restrictions of in-person counselling and rehabilitation.
As if the conditions aren’t already stressful enough for those in treatment for drugs and alcohol, they also have to worry about the effects of the virus. Long-term substance abuse can weaken your immune system, increasing the risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes.
If the COVID-19 pandemic affected your recovery coaching and threw your progress off-track, you’re not alone. Hills & Ranges has seen an increase in inquiries and admissions to our private rehabilitation centre in Melbourne since the start of the pandemic. Here we’ve compiled a list of things you may be experiencing that suggest you may benefit from pursuing drugs and alcohol counselling to help you get back on track.
Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety can trigger substance abuse in people with a prior addiction or none at all. During the height of the pandemic, we were isolated in our homes with nothing better to do than silence the worry in our minds and sirens outside our windows. It was (and still is) a traumatic time, and we’re inundated with facts about the virus with few resources telling us how to cope with the effects on our mental health.
Finances are another trigger for many people in substance abuse recovery. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs permanently or temporarily. This uncertainty coincides with anxiety, causing many people to turn to their addictions to provide temporary relief.
Loss of Support
Having a solid support system makes a world of difference in your recovery from substance abuse. Many people rely on support groups, therapists, friends, co-workers or family members to help them navigate triggers for their addictions.
The pandemic took those recovery tools away from us. At best, you could tune into online meetings to talk with your support group. Digital support can suffice for some people far into their recovery, but those who have just begun need structure and constant support that cannot be accessed through a computer screen. However, many faced the worst-case scenario: being stuck at home alone with no support group within reach.
Getting Help for Substance Abuse After the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a breeding ground for fear and anxiety, financial stress and loss of support – for everyone. How did you cope? If you turned to a past addiction or developed a new substance abuse problem, we can help. Talk to Hills & Ranges about your treatment options by calling 1800 954 749.