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How to Handle Addiction during the Covid-19 Pandemic

For the past year, the global community has been stroked by a deadly pandemic known as the coronavirus pandemic. The covid-19 pandemic has caused a global shut down of activities. It has turned everything upside down forcing businesses, schools, and even churches to shut down their activities for some time. The pandemic had a really negative effect on persons, especially those suffering from substance use disorder. This shut down caused all recovery centers to shut down their activities putting the lives of addicts at risk.

The COVID-19 presents unique challenges for everyone in the world. One group of persons in particular known to be the ones suffering from substance use disorder are finding that being at home, with little or no access to in-person services, is creating hardships and challenges they were never expecting. 

In the case of persons with substance use disorder, that could develop into a variety of challenges that could cause them to fall back into addiction. This is because life becomes hard and it causes the addicts to seek out things that are self-soothing and pleasurable. For an individual who is addicted to any form of substance, they will eventually slip into wanting to seek excitement due to the boredom factor. These persons will take the chance of risking their health to go and obtain the drink or the drug.

in the United States, over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the 12 months ending in May 2020, which is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ( How Is Addiction Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic? | Psychology Today)

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HOW DO PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM ADDICTION COPE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of definite challenges in the world of rehab facilities, group meetings, and treatment centers. Persons who require higher levels of care, such as medical detox and residential treatment, may be limited depending on their geographical location.

Firstly, to help facilitate treatment and recovery efforts in addicts, many support groups, organizations, and treatment centers have shifted to an online model of providing rehab services. Through video talks, conference calls, live video meetings, and individual counseling sessions, people suffering from a substance use disorder can continue to get help regularly while waiting for the social distancing orders to be terminated.

It was reported that in the US, In order to address restricted treatment access during COVID-19, guidance from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, and the US Department of Health and Human Services has allowed for use of audio-only telehealth encounters for buprenorphine induction without requiring an in-person evaluation or video interface. This has enabled so many innovations in order to try to meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us during the current pandemic. ( Innovation During COVID-19: Improving Addiction Treatment Access – PubMed (nih.gov)

WAY FORWARD

Things are extremely serious, but leaders can put in place effective strategies now. In the short run, leaders can double down on harm reduction. They can distribute communities with naloxone, putting it in every library, gas station, pharmacy, and vending machine, making it as common as a fire extinguisher. They can invest in syringe services programs and encourage people to use drug test strips to test for fentanyl.

The government can also expand medications for addiction treatment by eliminating the X waiver, permitting all licensed physicians to provide them, and by allowing pharmacists to provide buprenorphine, which is an approach showing favorable results in Rhode Island.

Leaders also need to develop a long-term strategy that tackles the root causes of addiction. As COVID-19 makes clear, it puts people suffering from addiction at greater risk. The rise in cocaine overdose deaths is especially worrying because while medications for addiction treatment work for opioid use disorders, they do not work for cocaine use disorders.

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