Substance Abuse Treatment in the Time of Corona

The coronavirus pandemic has turned much of society upside down, and those with substance/alcohol use disorders (SUD/AUD) are embedded in the chaos that has resulted. Central to treatment for addictions is reconnecting people with individuals and groups that provide positive reinforcement supporting durable recovery. This includes family, friends, peer support groups, and other social structures. Unfortunately, precautions to prevent the spread of covid-19 push people into social isolation cutting them off from those who would otherwise offer invaluable support. When individuals are under “social isolation,” especially in a dysfunctional family unit, stress levels increase and for those who deal with such stress by self-medication, the tendency to use drugs or to use more drugs (relapse or overdose) increases. This is what was observed in the first spike of covid-19 illness in the spring (especially April-May in the mid-South) and what seems to be happening now in a second spike in covid-related illnesses.

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