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How to cope with substance abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic

The world has been gripped by the unrelenting force of the COVID-19 pandemic since the end of 2019 and, over 12 months later, the end is still far from sight.

As a result of the social and economic struggles associated with the virus, many people have found and are finding it difficult to cope in this new world we find ourselves in.

Unfortunately, this has led to a rise in the number of substance abuse cases in Fresno, California. This follows reports from My Time Recovery and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and San Diego-based Millennium Health which revealed a rise in alcohol and drug use respectively during the pandemic.

In these strange and trying times, it is vitally important that those struggling from substance abuse know how to access the help they need, as well as being aware of the assistance they can provide themselves.

Most harmful substances can have a negative effect on the human immune system, harming your body’s natural ability to fend off harmful pathogens. As a result, this can make substance abuse victims even more susceptible to the symptoms of COVID-19, as well as any other illness.

For example, as COVID is a respiratory illness, those who smoke a harmful amount of tobacco, marijuana, or meth can struggle due to the resulting lung inflammation. Therefore, those who do smoke are advised to contact their health care provider for further advice if they experience any respiratory problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought with it an increased level of stress across the global population as people struggle to deal with work, finances, and isolation. It is a well-known fact that one side effect of stress is an increased intensity of cravings.

Therefore, those dealing with existing substance abuse issues may find it harder to resist relapsing. In short, those who have depended on drugs and alcohol in the past are more prone to return to them in the face of stress.

Substance abuse is also known to be more difficult to deal with when faced with periods of isolation. Being left alone with their thoughts can lead to a substance abuse victim falling back on their old support systems, drugs and/or alcohol. This is much easier to manage when living an active and social lifestyle, which is near-impossible in some parts of the US due to certain COVID restrictions.

Those who find themselves in the early stages of recovery often rely on a community support system, whether that be friends, family, therapy groups, or something else. COVID-19 may have disrupted some of these recovery channels, thus increasing the risk of a substance abuse relapse.

Changes in routine have also been known to have a negative effect on substance abuse recovery and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly introduced a lot of change. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you develop a new routine based around things that you can still do amidst the pandemic, including physical exercise, virtual meetings, and work.

Remember, help is always just one click or phone call away!

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