Isolation has historically been used as a form of torture around the world. We humans need interaction with other humans. We need the warmth of connections, family, friends, colleagues. So when I think about people who have become addicted to opioids that sooner or later isolate themselves from either a life they want or a life they remember, it is another form of torture that is as devastating as the drug itself.
Drug Abuse Is A Mechanism Of Escape
If someone became addicted because a doctor prescribed opioids instead of treatment or if someone tried it at a party to get high and fell into the trap of using, the dependency usually serves the same mechanism of escape. People with a difficult life like the feeling of not caring about that difficult life. People with a great life who get caught up in using become isolated as they continue to cause friction and distance from the ones they love which in turn demands more use.
Psychology tells us that people begin abusing drugs often as a result of being bored and having too much time on their hands. Furthermore, it is known that as abuse progresses into addiction, boredom becomes even more of a factor because the drug actually rewires the brain to receive more gratification from the opioid than from normal activities.
Isolation Without Routines
Normally, there is some routine in place that keeps most people from abusing drugs at all hours of the day. However, when work, school and social activity come to a halt, people struggling with addiction have to face more cravings while also having fewer options for combating them.
Depression and anxiety also increase with isolation. Being isolated makes it more likely for a person to estrange themselves from friends and family.
Along Comes COVID-19
COVID has made those susceptible to use opioids much more likely to do so. I look at the opioid crisis as a pile of burning wood that has been sending smoke signals to our country demanding help.
The wood is the susceptible population.
The drying of the wood is the long standing cover up and greed of pharmaceutical companies. The gun powder on the wood pile is the overprescribing by doctors.
The gasoline poured over the pile is heroin and fentanyl
– and here comes COVID-19 walking by and takes that last drag on a cigarette before flicking it towards the pile.
The explosion has happened. Opioid users are now more isolated than ever, more vulnerable than ever, more terrified than ever, more tortured than ever. We have a bigger problem than ever on our hands as this global pandemic disrupts all our lives in one way or another. The opioid epidemic was already spiraling out of control and now it’s going to be even more challenging to pick up the pieces.