What Is COVID-19?
Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is a dangerously infectious illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in which airborne particles and droplets are spread from person to person. In most cases, an individual will experience mild to moderate respiratory difficulties and often will not require serious medical attention. Some cases, however, can become more serious and need special treatment and more intensive care. Certain demographics of people are at a greater risk of experiencing severe illness such as the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, or diabetes. Wide spreading and tangential, COVID-19 is classified as a pandemic considering that it has touched every corner of the globe. This virus can be fatal; since it was introduced to the United States back in March 2020, approximately 943,411 Americans have died.
In the nearly 2 years that we’ve been living through the pandemic, there have been variants of the original disease via genetic mutations. So far, the United States has seen several variants, but the Delta and Omicron strains have been the most prevalent. First reported in the country midway through 2021, the Delta variant is known to be both more contagious and can cause more serious health risks. Currently, Omicron is the leading variant with transmission rates higher than both the original virus and Delta strains. While more easily spread, the symptoms and severity of the Omicron variant have been less serious than its predecessors.
What Can I Do?
Vaccines have been proven to be one of the best ways to mitigate both the spread and intensity of the COVID-19 viruses; while a vaccinated person can still contract and spread the illness, it likely won’t be as severe. Unvaccinated people risk a significantly higher chance of contracting a dangerous and life-threatening illness than those fully up to date with their vaccines.
Researchers are still learning about the effectiveness of the current vaccines and the protection against Omicron specifically, but largely the vaccines (including all doses and boosters) remain the best way to stop the spread and prevent continued emergence of new variations of the virus.
In addition to vaccines, the CDC is still recommending mask-wearing to slow the spread of the disease, particularly indoors and/or around groups of people as well as maintaining social distance with others. While vaccination compliance is one of the biggest focuses, there is still cause for concern regarding what doctors refer to as “long COVID” where those previously positive for the illness continue to experience lingering symptoms for several weeks and even months after infection. Some of the most common symptoms of long COVID include:
- Continued loss of taste and smell
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Muscle and bone pain
How Is COVID-19 Influencing Addiction?
Many doctors are prescribing Opioids at much higher rates than usual in an effort to manage some of the symptoms of COVID-19. Researchers studying veterans’ treatment centers around the US found an increase in the number of Opioid prescriptions doctors were writing; a concerning discovery in a country still battling an Opioid Epidemic. Combining alcohol (more specifically, an alcohol use disorder) with Opioids can result in overdose and death.
Solitude and stress can be dangerous triggers for individuals trying to maintain sobriety. With the CDC encouraging continued isolation, mental health disorders have been on the rise, threatening substance abstinence. For example, clinical insomnia has increased 37% and anxiety among health care workers has increased 25.8% since the start of the pandemic. With traditional support structures (such as family gatherings or accessible extracurriculars) long suspended and enhanced stressors such as loss of a job or family member, substance use across the country has increased. Results between several studies established a range of a 13% to 18% rise in drug use during the ongoing pandemic. More and more people are relying on alcohol and other drugs as a way of coping. Anyone struggling through this time has an increased susceptibility of developing a substance use disorder, but those people struggling with mental health disorders like PTSD and anxiety are at an even higher risk.
Coronavirus may have changed the landscape of society, but it has not changed the way alcohol abuse destroys the lives of individuals and their families.
Can Addiction Impact COVID-19?
Upon overview it may seem that the corresponding conflation between substance use and continuing presence of the COVID-19 pandemic is largely one sided. This is not the case; many substances such as alcohol significantly lower a person’s inhibitions, clouding their judgement and decision-making and thus their ability to appropriately assess risk. Impaired thinking makes it harder to maintain social distancing and other safety precautions and guidelines, furthering the exposure both for the individual and those close to them.
There are also heightened health risks for individuals who consume high volumes of alcohol. In excess, alcohol can damage the cells that line the lung, increasing the chances of contracting a respiratory illness. Though hand sanitizers must contain a certain percentage of ethyl alcohol to be considered effective in fighting bacteria, the same is not true for bodily intake; alcoholic beverages provide no aid in recovery or protection against coronavirus but could indeed exacerbate prognosis. Repeated and long-term alcohol use damages the internal organs and can lead to serious health conditions like pancreatitis, cirrhosis, and several different types of cancer. People with chronic health conditions are at a higher risk for COVID-19. The use (and especially misuse) of other substances like intravenous (IV) drugs such as Heroin and other Opioids increases risks for contracting HIV and a multitude of other conditions that can make a COVID-19 diagnosis a death sentence. Seeking treatment can provide you or your loved one an opportunity to heal the mind and body and provide tools to aid in the sobriety journey following rehab.
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Are Rehab Facilities Open And Safe?
Yes; rehabilitation facilities are still open and providing essential treatment for people in need. When you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, it doesn’t feel like living. There are resources to assist in your recovery; reach out to a treatment provider to start today.
With a therapeutic stay at a professional rehab center, you can safely detox, start therapy, join a support group, and learn ways to manage your cravings. If you’re interested in learning more, please call a treatment provider today to ask them all the questions you have. With one phone call you can learn:
- The types of therapy for alcoholism
- How to safely detox from alcohol
- How a dual diagnosis is treated
- How to create an aftercare plan
Rehab facilities are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with the safety of their patients and staff in mind and taking precautions accordingly. Patients are tested regularly and social distancing as well as mask-wearing is enforced to ensure all parties are adequately protected. Centers are also providing hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
Despite the ongoing disturbance of COVID-19, there is no better time to seek help (and treatment) for alcohol abuse and addiction. The stakes are high as we continue to navigate this new, lonely, isolated world and it’s easy to turn to those vices that can temporarily temper the sadness. This, however, is not conducive nor the answer to a bigger problem: addiction and abuse only lead to devastation and destruction in the long run. Treatment facilities are working hard to provide a safe and comfortable environment amidst this global crisis so that you can become your best and most lively self now, today.
Alcohol Rehab Guide is here to provide you with information on the realities of alcoholism and the relationship with COVID-19, but also to connect you with someone who can help. A treatment provider can help you decipher what your treatment options are, ways to pay for rehab, as well as answer any questions that might be holding you back from your new beginning.
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