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How One Public Health Crisis Fuels Another

Turning Point

Increased emotional turmoil, thinning resources, and decreased care and support make the COVID-19 pandemic especially deadly for those struggling with drug addiction. Experts predict coronavirus may fuel the next wave of the opioid crisis, which has already experienced 4 major “waves,” including:

  1. Prescription pills (benzos and opiates)
  2. Heroin
  3. Fentanyl
  4. Stimulants and polysubstance abuse (or using more than 1 drug at once)

Despite efforts to ease treatment barriers, the effects of the pandemic have already started to become clear. Compared to this same time last year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline has seen calls increase by 900%. Additionally, one public health professional states:

The people who are already the most vulnerable are made even more vulnerable in a pandemic.”

Withdrawal and Overdose

To prevent the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis on people with drug dependencies, many nonprofits are working harder than ever to make their services accessible. Volunteers are particularly concerned about withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe enough to make people suicidal, and the threat of accidental overdoses in isolation.

With drug supplies interrupted, many people may turn to drugs they are unfamiliar with in an effort to prevent withdrawal. “As supply goes down,” one expert explains, “overdoses go up, paradoxically.” Even people who do not seek another substance may succumb to the anxiety, depression, and other intense symptoms of drug withdrawal. Another recovery professional sums it up:

I know people who have killed themselves going through it.”

Those struggling with legal substances are not immune, either. With widespread closures of liquor stores and other businesses, those with alcohol addiction may lose access to their alcohol supply and suffer fatal withdrawal seizures.

Treatment Is Crucial

In most cases, the people fighting drug and alcohol addiction cannot quit cold turkey, nor can they overcome their addiction on their own. Many people with substance use disorders need medication-assisted treatment with prescriptions like methadone and buprenorphine and some may need access to naloxone, a drug that can stop heroin overdoses. While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has made some of these medicines more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients still need supervision, and they must have an existing relationship with recovery resources to obtain an initial prescription.

If you do not already have a connection with a treatment program, you may have trouble accessing the care you need. The head of SAMHSA reveals:

We were hearing from some of our states that they were seeing clinics having trouble maximizing the amount of care they could provide, because they had staff getting sick.”

How to Get Help

Fortunately, many treatment centers and nonprofit organizations are still open, and providers are putting their lives on the line to help you. Our team at Turning Point remains dedicated to drug and alcohol rehabilitation during this difficult time.

We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure that our doors stay open. Click here to learn more about our admissions process or call us at (973) 380-0905 for more information.

If you are battling addiction, the stakes are life and death – now more than ever before.

Don’t become a statistic; contact us today.

Please Note:

  • If you are facing a medical emergency, please dial 911.
  • For crisis situations, the SAMHSA National Helpline is open 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing public health crisis. For the most accurate and up-to-date information and resources, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO).
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