Isolation and loneliness have an overwhelming effect on people who are addicted to drugs and other substances.
It has been shown that many people who feel more socially isolated are the ones who are more susceptible to mental health and substance abuse issues. And, it has been noted that addiction to drugs and alcohol may not just be an effect of isolation but also one of the causes of it. Anxiety and isolation will often be the cause of relapse for many who suffer and it may be a calling to those who have never used to start now.
When a pandemic that requires people to self-isolate crashes headlong into an ongoing epidemic that is fueled by loneliness and isolation, things are going to get increasingly harmful. And that is exactly what is happening as the COVID-19 pandemic crosses paths with the opioid epidemic.
With alternative methods of treating chronic pain, including chiropractic, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture being limited or completely unavailable due to COVID-19, people that have controlled symptoms with no or little medication have nowhere to turn. On top of that, add an overburdened medical system, with every nurse, doctor and other medical professional being called upon to help in this crisis, those who are addicted may be afraid to go to the hospital or urgent care for fear of becoming infected with the virus. There has, however, been in increase in tele-health visits, which is taking pressure off of the healthcare system with in-person encounters. But now a new problem has come up. Due to the “stay-at-home” orders in most states, the doctors are more inclined to prescribe pain killers rather than refer patients for any other kind of treatment.
It’s a definite catch-22 no matter how you look at it. In the pandemic social isolation is going to save lives. In the opioid epidemic social isolation is likely to cause a new addiction, relapse or perhaps even death. I know we have our hands full, but we must find a way to help this very vulnerable segment of our society in the midst of one of our most challenging times.