Stress during infectious disease outbreak can be overwhelming
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can be overwhelming.
As a result, Southern Seven Health Department is encouraging residents to be aware of substance use or abuse involving themselves and others during this time.
With the ongoing isolation, fear and worry about their health and those of their loved ones, the health department notes that concerns over their financial situation or job, or loss of support services they rely on can lead some to use alcohol, tobacco or other substances.
Stress during a pandemic can contribute to increased use of prescription medications, non-prescription medications, illegal drugs, or a return to use after remission.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC, it is not known yet if the occurrence of COVID-19 is higher for people who use drugs or have substance use disorder, SUD, than for those who don’t use drugs.
However, it is known that drug use can have serious effects on the body and could make COVID-19 illness more severe, but more evidence is needed.
Alcohol use can increase the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia, which are sometimes associated with COVID-19.
Drinking alcohol weakens your body’s ability to fight infections, increasing the risk of complications and making it harder to get better if you are sick.
Drinking alcohol does not protect you from COVID-19, the health department emphasizes.
For those undergoing treatment for substance use, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic may result in disruptions to treatment and harm reduction service providers.
In-person services for substance use or substance use disorder might not be available, leading to untreated or missed diagnosis, return to substance use for those not currently using or in remission, reduced testing for HIV and Hepatitis C, and limited access to care and treatment for SUD and infectious diseases.
There is also growing concern that social distancing may lead to higher numbers of people using substances alone, without others around to administer Narcan (naloxone), to perform life-saving measures such as CPR or to call for help in case of overdose.
People may also be afraid to seek medical attention in the emergency department or from other healthcare professionals for fear of infection.
Increased stress can lead to increases in alcohol and substance use during any crisis.
The health department says that if you or someone you care about is using alcohol or other substances, or is increasing their use during the COVID-19 pandemic, here are a few suggestions that may help:
Contact your healthcare provider.
Locate virtual treatment and recovery programs.
Medication-assisted treatment for alcohol or opioid use disorders may be an option.
Take medicine as prescribed and continue your therapy, treatment or support appointments (in person or through telehealth services) when possible.
Call the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service (1-800-662-HELP) to speak with someone about an alcohol or substance use problem.
For more information, contact Southern Seven Health Department at 618-634-2297 or visit www.cdc.gov.