The situation of Covid-19 or coronavirus has turned most of the world into isolation. This epidemic spreads quickly, and the people who have it may not even show symptoms, but will still be carriers. One of the terrifying things that this virus brings is isolation. Health officials advise you to stay in our homes as much as possible. Workplaces adapted by operating remotely or switched to skeleton crews to avoid people from getting infected. The larger the group, the higher the risk for spreading COVID-19.
The CDC describes coronavirus as a contagious respiratory infection that has a wide variety of symptoms. Symptoms may or may not show up within the first two weeks. It spreads quickly, and some people may not show signs and still can carry the virus. Exposure to the virus happens by coming in contact with someone with coronavirus. The best way to lower the risk of exposure means staying isolated.
Isolation proves to be the most for sure way not to contact coronavirus. For many people, this can be hard to handle. Our society thrives on gatherings and going out. Humans tend to be social creatures, which has never happened before, so no one knows what to expect.
Those dealing with isolation may also try new things as people feel the strain of less interaction. According to the Washington Post, opioids use has increased at least by 18% in March compared to the previous year. Ambulance teams, hospitals, and police gather this data during their work hours as they receive calls and deal with the growing cases.
Staying in our homes and limiting our interactions with people is the best option to stay healthy right now, but keeping to this rule can be difficult. Health professionals encourage people at risk to stay home until the quarantine orders lift. The people at risk should continue to take precautions.
Who should be more cautious?
Each situation is different, and everyone has different risks for Covid-19. Anyone can catch this virus, and some people are more susceptible to its symptoms than others, but anyone can get sick. For those who deal with substance abuse disorder, the risks are even higher than average. People who deal with substance abuse disorders for drugs and alcohol can have compromised immune systems and bodies that are not operating at full capacity.
For people who abuse opioids, this may be the case. People who have Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) may be at risk for respiratory and pulmonary health issues. These individuals with OUD also may have difficult living situations, and if they experience homelessness or incarceration during this time, they will have a harder time staying isolated. These living habits make it harder for them to get masks recommended by the CDC. Staying away from other infected people or
Why should people with OUD take more precautions?
Those who have OUD may be prone to other respiratory health issues. Heroin can be inhaled instead of injected, which can put more strain on your lungs. Opioids target different parts of your body, including the brain-stem. When this part of your body is affected, it slows down breathing, which can put the user in a life-threatening or fatal situation in normal circumstances. However, with Covid-19, this is an even higher risk as this virus affects your lungs tremendously.
Another area that is affected is your blood. Someone overdosing on opioids causes a decrease in oxygen in the bloodstream, known as hypoxemia. Having this happen means that your brain may not get enough oxygen through your blood supply. Brain damage can occur if this happens and if this persists, more brain cells may die.
The CDC advises that chronic respiratory diseases are already known to increase overdose risks among people taking opioids. Anyone who has a smaller lung capacity is at a higher risk for Covid-19. However, having OUD does not mean that you cannot keep healthy. This merely means that you should take extra precautions. Now would be a good time to start thinking about how to treat your addiction. Treating your addiction will help extend your lifespan and create a healthier lifestyle.
What could happen if I have OUD during this epidemic?
People who have opioid use disorder during this pandemic may find it harder than ever to stop. Coping with isolation and the stress of an epidemic may cause relapses. The challenges of the outbreak will create difficult times for everybody, and it is essential that everyone stick together. Some OUD users may try switching to different and dangerous drugs. Someone who may have been taking prescription opioids may move to heroin or cocaine if it is more easily accessible.
If this happens, there are a few things that someone with OUD can do. It is important to reach out to your loved ones if they are known to have opioid use disorder or any other substance abuse disorder. We can overcome Covid-19 together.
How can I help someone with OUD?
So if you know someone who is struggling with opioids and are abusing substances, the number one thing to do is reach out to them and make sure they are okay. It may seem simple, but it can show them they are not alone. Isolation will cause some people to take opioids as a coping method. Even if you cannot visit them physically, giving this person a call on the phone or seeing them in person can help them overcome the feelings of isolation.
This would also be a great time to help them find alternative coping methods to isolation, anxiety, stress. Replacing opioids will establish good habits for the future. Finding healthier alternatives may help them deal with their feelings in a new positive way.
If you find that you or a loved one are increasing their opioid consumption due to the coronavirus, then finding a treatment center that works for you is an option. For New Jersey, Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford offers Medicated Assisted Treatment programs that specialize in opioids. They also provide inpatient and outpatient treatments that can be tailored to work with your schedule. Finding a recovery center with pleasant and friendly professionals is an essential factor, and Pinelands prides itself on its excellent staff! So if you find that you or a loved one need help, reach out to Pinelands, and they can find the right treatment for you!