COVID-19 has pretty much affected every aspect of everyone’s life in the entire world. The magnitude of this is hard to understand, although we do see it in how economies have responded, panic buying and constant complaining from friends online.
One group that has been especially vulnerable during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns are people with active drug addiction. More than 35 states have reported increases in drug-related deaths according to the American Medical Association.
Milwaukee county alone saw a 54% increase in EMS calls related to drug overdose and an 80% increase in suicide attempts.
As the full effect of the crisis continues to devastate small businesses and families still losing loved ones everyday, here are some things to consider about people in active drug addiction.
It’s a Viscous Cycle
Unemployment has contributed to an increase in drug use, which in turn makes it harder for addicts to find and keep jobs.
Unless you run a business that has a mission to target recovering addicts for employment there isn’t a lot the average person can to break this trend.
What you can do is remind your friends and loved ones that losing a job is not the end of the world. Failing a drug test at a job is a big mistake, but experts say to remind people that failing a drug test is not the end of the world.
According to Drug Test City addicts often overestimate the consequences of failing a drug test. It can seem hopeless when your life has been distilled down to going to work and then coming home to keep social distance and you suddenly lose a job. It’s important to keep from doing anything that can make it worse.
Hobbies Are Key to Avoiding Relapse
Out of all the drug addicts we see every month the ones that have replaced their drug use with other hobbies are the most successful at avoiding relapse.
Recovering drug addicts are often more involved in their hobbies, and that could be bad if COVID has suddenly affected your ability to do the thing you love.
If you know someone who is a drug addict in recovery try encouraging them to learn a new skill or adopt a new hobby that is still functional during a quarantine.
You can do this subtly by buying someone a gift. A Fender Squier Stratocaster costs about $120, a Canon Rebel EOS T/6 costs just under $400. It’s a small price to pay if you have a friend that can effectively avoid relapse through your generosity.
If you have been affected by COVID and find yourself low on funds, consider your own hobbies. I once gave a friend $2.50 worth of pennies in coin rolls and it helped him avoid using drugs for years as he developed a coin hunting habit.
He didn’t find a double die or rare coin in the 5 rolls I gave him, but eventually he did make a few hundred dollars on some rare finds he came across later.
Use Technology to Maintain a Support Network
The biggest problem besides the financial hardships and unemployment for drug addicts during COVID has been loneliness. Many people have cultivated support networks for years only to see them cut off when the lockdown began.
Be sure to keep in touch with any of your friends and family that are recovering from drug abuse during this time. Instead of calling use video messenger or connect through an online game.
People that travel for work have been finding ways to use technology to stay connected, really connected, for years. Shorten your adoption curve and jump right in with a weekly Zoom meeting among a group of friends or nightly meet ups on Fortnite.
Apps like Snapchat offer a more intimate experience that can foster connection more than a phone call or text.
Stay Optimistic About the Future
Life is full of ups and downs. Coronavirus has been an obstacle for everyone, but the people I see that are doing the best with it are the ones that choose to keep a positive outlook.
Ultimately how you respond to adversity is up to you. Most experts agree that the virus will soon dissipate, or a vaccine will be released, and we will return to some semblance of normalcy. Look forward to those days and make the best of the days in between.
It’s rare when everyone in the world is simultaneously looking forward to the same thing – the day that all this is over. Break up the time we have left into manageable chunks of time that you can fill with positive activities.
I have a friend that is learning Spanish while stuck at home. I have another that has been practicing chess online. If you focus on self improvement and positivity there will be less time to talk yourself into relapse.