Table of Contents
The Coronavirus Pandemic
You may be one of the many individuals mentally stressed by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has resulted in high levels of anxiety sometimes leading to the use of drugs or alcohol. Handling the stress can be extremely difficult resulting in an issue with substance abuse. The entire world is currently trying to deal with the mental impact of not just the virus itself, but the difficulty in dealing with being at home for such a long period. Flow on effects such as loss of employment or business income are very common and can be very stressful especially at a time like now. If you or someone you love has been affected by a substance abuse disorder, you are not alone.
The coronavirus directly attacks the lungs. This means if you vape or smoke either marijuana or tobacco, the threat to your health is a lot more serious. If you have a methamphetamine or opioid disorder, you need to be aware there may be a significant impact on your pulmonary and respiratory health. Unfortunately, anyone with a substance abuse disorder has a much higher risk of experiencing incarceration or homelessness than the general public. This means the challenges you are facing regarding transmitting COVID-19 may be different than most of the population.
Understanding the current threat is not easy. There are a lot of conflicting reports and inaccurate information. All of this may have significantly increased your level of stress. The stress you are feeling may cause:
• Increased worry about not just your own health, but the health of those you love
• An increased use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
• Your chronic health issues may become worse
• You may experience difficulties with concentration or sleep
• Changes in your eating and sleeping habits
• Mental health conditions may become worse
The Most Common Reactions to Coronavirus
• The development or worsening of a substance abuse issue
• Fear regarding the best ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus
• Social isolation for individuals living alone due to COVID-19
• Concerns regarding the loss of numerous community and medical care services
• Feeling guilty about letting loved ones offer the help you need
• The decrease and closures of numerous forms of public transportation
If you were affected by mental health issues including anxiety or depression prior to the pandemic, your situation may be worse. Your risk of developing mental health issues may also increase based on:
• Living in a household with a lower income
• Language barriers
• Stigma due to race, disability, age or ethnicity
• Individuals believed to be more likely to spread coronavirus.
• Individuals with a substance abuse disorder
The Increase in Mental Health Issues During the Coronavirus Pandemic
There is no doubt mental health issues have increased due to COVID-19. This has impacted the number of domestic violence calls received during this time. A lot of men have become aware of their personal issues and are actually seeking help in many cases because they are afraid they may become violent or resort to unwanted behaviors such as alcohol and/or drug abuse. Due to a combination of social isolation and being unable to work, the use of alcohol and drugs has increased. There are numerous options for handling all of these issues before any substantial personal or family crisis results. If you are experiencing any major issues, your best option is to ask for help. Although mental health stigma may be a cause of concern preventing some from seeking treatment, it is important you move past any of those unhelpful thoughts.
Almost 20 individuals in the United States are physically abused every minute by their partner. This is over 10 million individuals per year. The estimate is 17.3 million individuals have had a minimum of one depressive incidence. This is 7.1 percent of every person living in the United States. The age group most affected is adults between 18 and 25 at 13.1 percent. There is a higher likelihood of this increasing in the current environment and one way of doing that is decreasing incidents of drug and alcohol abuse.
If you have experienced issues with drugs or alcohol in the past, you may be having difficulties during the pandemic. You may also be having a problem with drugs or alcohol you have not experienced in the past. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has placed individuals in these circumstances at a higher risk. This means your respiratory health challenges may be different than the general population.
If you use opioids, the drug will slow down your breathing because your brainstem is affected. This places you at risk for hypoxemia or a low level of oxygen in your blood or a fatal or life-threatening overdose. When your brain does not have the necessary oxygen, the result may be damage to your brain, Your brain cells can only withstand low oxygen for short periods of time before damage occurs. The mortality risk for individuals using opioids increases due to chronic respiratory disease. The decreased lung capacity of coronavirus may place you in a dangerous situation.
If you have used methamphetamines in the past, your risk may be higher. These drugs constrict your blood vessels. This is a contributing factor to both pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary damage. Unfortunately, the number of individuals using methamphetamines during the pandemic is consistently increasing.
The Steps You Can Take
As the pandemic continues, you will need to find ways to preserve your mental and physical health. This will have you thinking more clearly and lead to more positive behaviors. There are a number of helpful mental health resources at present to help you deal with current challenges resulting from the coronavirus crisis. Some of the best tips you can follow regarding addiction and mental health during coronavirus are provided below.
Creating a Routine: The creation of a daily routine will help you feel more productive and normal. Making a list of what you hope to accomplish each day may help.
Asking for Help: If you are feeling depressed or violent, ask for help before you turn to drugs or alcohol. If you already have a substance abuse issue, help is available to help you recover.
Helping Others: If you are in the right position, offer help for those most affected by COVID-19. This includes the elderly and individuals with chronic medical or respiratory issues. Offering to run errands or purchase groceries will substantially help numerous people.
Taking Care of Yourself: Maintaining as normal a schedule as possible including following an exercise routine, eating healthy meals and getting enough sleep may help you fight the urge to drink or use drugs. Meditation, yoga and stretching are also excellent options.
Remain in Contact: One of the most common reasons for alcohol or drug abuse is loneliness. Call the people in your life, talk to them and explain how you are feeling. If possible, take advantage of social media, texts and video conferencing. Just because you are performing social distancing does not mean you are unable to hear the voices or see the faces of the most important people in your life. This is a good way to set up a support system.
Medication: If you are taking medication for any mental issue such as depression or anxiety, call your physician’s office and request an extended supply. This will eliminate the stress resulting from concerns you may run out of your medication.
The Media: While remaining informed about the pandemic is advisable, exposing yourself to too much media is not. If you constantly watch television, listen to the radio or search the internet for information regarding the coronavirus, you may become overwhelmed. This can increase your desire for drugs and alcohol.