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The Struggles of COVID-19 and Drug Addiction

March 31, 2021

COVID-19 has impacted almost every facet of our lives, including addiction and recovery. With various regulations in place and many businesses still closed or operating at a limited capacity, physical and mental health has become a significant concern for people who are currently battling a substance use disorder. It is also affecting those in recovery who have been separated from their social circles.

Physical Effects on Addicts Caused by COVID-19

Addiction affects the body in a variety of negative ways, including:

  • Destroying internal organs
  • Weakening the immune system

Long-term alcohol use causes:

  • Heart damage – irregular heartbeat as well as stretching and drooping of the heart muscle.
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Fibrosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis

Alcohol abuse is also linked to a variety of cancers and brain damage. All of these conditions can make you more vulnerable to COVID-19 symptoms.

The illicit drug also impacts the body in unfavorable ways such as:

Long-term methamphetamines use causes:

  • Liver, lung, and kidney damage
  • Malnutrition
  • Tooth decay
  • Damaged blood vessels in the brain and heart
  • Respiratory issues (if smoked)
  • Abscesses and infectious diseases (if injected)

Opioid abuse causes respiratory issues as well as pulmonary issues. Smoking tobacco, drugs, or marijuana will weaken the lungs and putting smokers at a higher risk for having a more severe case of COVID-19. When you contract COVID-19, the virus starts by infecting the cells in the lining of the lungs. Initial symptoms include a dry cough, headache, fever, muscle pain, and fatigue.

These symptoms escalate as the infections continue through to the lower respiratory tract. Those with healthy immune systems have a better chance of containing the disease in the upper respiratory tract, giving them a better chance of recovering. People who have compromised immune systems, pulmonary issues, or chronic illness are at a high risk of severe illness and death.

Mental Health Struggles with COVID-19

Amid the social isolation caused by the pandemic, many people have left stressed out or feeling depressing and anxious. Those who have a preexisting mental condition may have worsened symptoms during this time. Substance abuse and mental health are linked with 50% of people with severe mental health disorders suffering from substance abuse called a dual diagnosis.

If mental health goes untreated, substance abuse will commonly worsen. On the other hand, when substance abuse worsens, mental health can worsen as well. While drugs and alcohol may offer some people temporary relief from anxiety or stress, their symptoms will worsen, and the adverse side effects will increase in the long run.

Symptoms that the global pandemic can cause include:

  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
  • Difficulty concentrating or sleeping.
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other substances.
  • Fear/worry about your health and your loved ones.

Those with mental health conditions should continue their current treatment during the pandemic and stay alert for new or worsening symptoms.

Seeking Substance Abuse Treatment During COVID-19? We Can Help.

With an increased risk of substance abuse during the pandemic, South Hill Recovery Project is working hard to provide safe inpatient services for those seeking addiction treatment in the South Hills. We offer addiction medicine services, psychiatric services, and concierge medicine services to ensure you get the care you need on your recovery journey. Contact us today to learn more.

Dr. Clark