"Relapsing Left and Right’: Trying to Overcome Addiction in a Pandemic"

Yesterday, the New York Times published an article written by Emma Goldberg and titled

"Relapsing Left and Right: Trying to Overcome Addiction in the Pandemic."

In her authoritative article, she describes the difficulties involved in trying to maintain recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol during the pandemic.

Goldberg reports that binge drinking has increased during the pandemic, and the CDC has reported a“concerning acceleration” of opioid-related overdoses as well. At the same time, many treatment centers have been forced to close or limit in-person encounters.

Marvin Ventrell of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers said, “In the 80-year history since addiction treatment began, we’ve never experienced anything as challenging as this. You have to put people in social settings to heal, and Covid conspires against that.”

Isolation has always been a problem for alcoholics, and loneliness increases the risk of relapse in people with substance-use disorders (SUD), according to a recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Review.

The problem is typified by a quote from a client at the Hazelden Betty Ford Center in New York. “What is more supportive than walking into a room and seeing a human you can touch?” they said. “What’s been missing is body language, our ability to hug each other. All that stuff is important when people are going through the difficult experience of getting off drugs or alcohol.”

In a recent blog article, “Addiction is Now a Risk Factor for Infection with Covid-19,” published on December 20th of last year, I described several scientific reports which documented the increased risk of contracting Covid-19 infection. Addicts and alcoholics “are more likely to catch the disease and more likely to be hospitalized because of it. But most importantly, we die at a higher rate than the general population!”

Newcomers, unable to attend in-person 12-step programs, are at special risk. For many reasons, social isolation is a major risk factor for relapse. In the blog post, I recommend several tips that can help those with SUD and listed several online resources, including a question and answer page on SUD and the pandemic from the CDC.

“Overcoming substance abuse through the use of spiritual principles

behind 12-Step programs, to find long-term recovery

from addiction to drugs and alcohol and to live a sober life.”

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