Getting Sober during COVID-19
We are absolutely in unprecedented times. We have been told to shelter in place for weeks with no specific end-time given. Parents are serving as teachers for young children while trying to do their jobs remotely. Elderly individuals face risk just leaving their house to get groceries. Front line healthcare workers and other essential business staff – including grocery store employees – are facing stress and trauma from increased pressures.
All of these factors have increased alcohol and drug use nationwide. There’s an even a new cocktail to come out of this situation: the Quarantini (with Emergen-C as one ingredient). Although it was created in jest, it’s indicative of similar trends from previous times of turmoil, such as Hurricane Katrina.
Quarantining at home comes with its own risk factors for people struggling with substance use disorder. Oftentimes there’s no specific schedule or routine. There may be plenty of alcohol or drugs available in the house. Using drugs and alcohol to cope can quickly onset into addiction or relapse when exacerbated with layoffs, financial loss, and worry about elderly parents
An appropriate holistic response to the coronavirus pandemic must include easier access to addiction treatment services and other behavioral healthcare programs. We know that when individuals recover from substance use disorder, there’s a reduction in emergency room visits from acute health crises like overdoses and alcohol poisoning. Hospitals are already at risk of being overloaded, so we have a responsibility now more than ever to prevent drug and alcohol related hospitalizations by providing accessible outpatient and residential rehab.
What we have personally experienced at New Directions for Women, an addiction treatment program for Women in Southern California, is that many individuals and families have decided to hold off on starting treatment. We are continuing to receive calls with questions about our rehab program but people are uncertain or fearful about leaving their homes to begin addiction treatment. Even if families we’re working with don’t bring up the coronavirus, it’s certainly on everybody’s mind.
As a healthcare provider, New Directions for Women will continue to stay open as an essential business to meet the needs of each woman seeking rehabilitation for drug addiction and/or alcoholism. A licensed, accredited treatment center is the safest place for someone struggling with addiction to be right now. The severity of one’s substance use disorder will continue to get much worse under current societal circumstances while isolating at home.
If you or a loved one that you’re sheltering in place with experiences any of the following, it’s likely the substance use is addictive and professional help may be needed to get sober:
1. Starting the day with a drink. Even though it may seem like all rules are out the window these days, this is addictive behavior that will lead to negative health effects over time.
2. Lying when questioned about drug and alcohol use, such as amount used, how often, and the last time of use. The well-stocked bar cart may start to look empty. Addiction and denial go hand in hand, particularly denial that the individual has a problem to begin with.
3. Drinking to the point of blackout, experiencing memory loss and/or injuring yourself while intoxicated. This may lead to a visit to the hospital or primary care physician, further pulling on limited healthcare resources.
If you, a loved one, or a patient you work with is struggling and needs residential or outpatient addiction treatment for women, now is the best time to get help. Staying at home with certain family members who struggle with addiction themselves or enable addictive behaviors will exacerbate the disease. Individuals – particularly those in the hospitality, restaurant, or event planning industries who are furloughed or laid off – have more time to work on themselves and begin their recovery journey.
As COVID-19 impacts us all nationwide, New Directions for Women is prepared to manage this crisis and seamlessly continue our residential and outpatient programs while accepting new patients.
If you are nervous or afraid, that’s okay. We are here to help. New Directions for Women has been supporting women on their recovery process for over forty years. Because we have been open since 1977, New Directions for Women has weathered the most challenging events in the last four decades – times of war, recessions, and natural disasters. We have a strong network of alumnae, donors, and referral sources, and were founded to withstand times like these. Being in a supportive sisterhood and experiencing camaraderie with other like-minded women in treatment is an ideal place to be.