How COVID-19 Is Affecting the Recovery Community

The coronavirus has placed communities around the globe under complete lockdown. Society’s most vulnerable members are at a higher risk of developing complications from the disease, and others have put their lives on hold as officials work to find a solution.

As we’ve watched the devastation grow in our country and across the world, we understand the complications of COVID-19 and how it can affect people with compromised immune systems. The disease has prompted cities across the U.S. to adjust routines with newly implemented measures devised by healthcare professionals.

If you’re recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, you may be wondering how the recovery community is affected.

How Individuals with SUDs Are at Risk

Those who are struggling with a substance use disorder or are in the process of overcoming addiction may be at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Individuals in active addiction or the early stages of recovery may experience withdrawal symptoms, which in some cases, could produce life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

For example, someone trying to overcome an alcohol or benzodiazepine addiction could experience delirium tremens (DTs) or seizures without proper care. On the other hand, people who are trying to stop using opioids may deal with symptoms that mimic the flu, which could cause dehydration and become fatal without the right care.

Withdrawal symptoms are complicated by themselves, but they become an even more significant challenge when COVID-19 enters the picture.

While some people may experience only mild effects from the virus, others may be hit with severe consequences that interrupt their breathing. Many people in the recovery community, at one time or another, have smoked vapes, cigarettes, crack, or marijuana. A person with compromised lungs could face severe symptoms of coronavirus. Respiratory failure may be fatal in some of these cases.

Despite the large number of people in treatment who are safe in a residential or hospital setting, a significant number of those still attend outpatient or aftercare programs. Many of these individuals will go to therapy, 12-step meetings, or other sponsored events that require them to leave the house. If one of these individuals interacts with someone infected, it could be disastrous.

Resource Disparities

Those struggling with substance use disorders need access to standard health care to remain healthy. Hospitals and clinics usually become overwhelmed during a pandemic, and the ability to receive services may decline substantially as a result.

If you are dealing with addiction, you could also experience other issues, such as a higher risk of infectious disease or long-term health problems that the use of harmful drugs causes. When resources are scarce due to a pandemic, communities that need frequent healthcare access are at high risk.

Does Treatment Involve Large Groups?

The recovery community talks about personal connection and how you should stay involved with group activities. During active addiction, many individuals tend to self-isolate, and when you position yourself in large groups, it helps make the transition to everyday life much more comfortable. Treatment facilities, however, attempt to limit this ratio of clients to how many clinicians are on staff.

Group sizes are typically small, but larger facilities may have activities that have more than 10 people. This number is the current recommendation from the White House for social distancing. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are rather large, so they may adapt to follow these new models.

Adapting and Taking Precautions

The recovery community’s main priority is safety. Although the coronavirus has considerable complications, it’s important to note that clients will be safe in treatment facilities. Clinics have a long history of practicing good hygiene, such as hand washing and other practices geared toward health. Although these precautions are in place, you must always tell someone if you are not feeling well. Wash your hands, and follow the advice of doctors to stay safe.

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