Coronavirus and Addiction Recovery

It may seem counterintuitive, but the coronavirus might just be the catalyst for many to finally take that step towards getting help. It is easy to be in denial about having a problem with drugs or alcohol during the usual busyness of life. We keep ourselves distracted all day at work, and then bury ourselves in Netflix at night. It isn’t hard to ignore the growing signs of a serious substance use disorder when constantly averting our attention to the daily distractions.

During the coronavirus era we have been forced to reckon with the elephant in the room. For ten weeks many of us have been captive in our homes with not much to do. Jobs are on hold, or lost, and movement is restricted. What we are left with is that person in the mirror.

If we already did have a substance abuse problem it has likely worsened during the stay-at-home orders. In fact, there is data to support claims of significant increases in alcohol purchases since the quarantine began. Rising stress levels, anxiety and depression in response to the bleak financial picture and coronavirus death counts only fuels the use of substances to help dull the emotional distress.

Maybe all this alone time, with few outside distractions, is going to shine the light on the negative effects of substance abuse, and spark the motivation to finally get some help. Gratefully, the state has granted residential addiction recovery programs as essential services, so they have been up and running throughout the pandemic. CDC and ASAM safety guidelines are in place to protect both staff and patients from Covid-19. So yes, coronavirus and addiction recovery can take place at the same time.

Acknowledge the Signs of Addiction

No matter how dedicated a person might be to ignoring the signs of a deepening substance use disorder, eventually the symptoms and life consequences will be impossible to ignore. Addiction impacts all aspects of a person’s life, including their relationships, their job, their physical and mental health, and their finances. The sooner that the individual admits they have a problem and seeks treatment, the better the outcome.

Some examples of signs of addiction include:

  • Obsessing over the next opportunity to get high or to drink. The entire focus of the day becomes centered on drug or alcohol use.
  • Obsessing about having ample supply of the substance of choice on hand
  • Secretive behavior, hiding the drugs or alcohol around the home, in the car, at work
  • Lying to family or friends about the level of consumption
  • Ignoring personal hygiene
  • Ignoring personal responsibilities or obligations
  • Reduced job performance, or losing a job due to absenteeism or poor productivity
  • Increased tolerance to the substance. Need more of the substance to achieve the desired effect
  • Problems in relationships, marital problems
  • Legal issues mount, such as DUI or custody disputes
  • Isolating behaviors, avoiding social gatherings
  • Experiencing alcohol blackouts
  • Experience cravings
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when substance is not available
  • Attempt to cut back or quit but cannot

Coronavirus and Addiction Recovery Options

During the Covid-19 pandemic there has been much confusion over what businesses and services are open or closed down temporarily. Fortunately, the state has allowed recovery centers to continue operating under the guidance of the CDC for safeguarding patients and staff members.

Individuals in need of professional help for overcoming a substance use disorder still have access to those services. The treatment options include:

  • Online outpatient treatment. For individuals with an emerging or mild substance use disorder, the outpatient option is available during the lockdown, albeit in a video conferencing format. The telehealth outpatient therapy and group sessions via Zoom are a temporary solution while we wind through the lockdown restrictions during coronavirus. Once those have lifted, individuals can once again return to in-person outpatient services.
  • Residential treatment. Thankfully, residential addiction treatment programs are still fully functioning, with rehabs continuing to receive new patients during the quarantine. This is made possible by tightly adhered to sanitizing protocols and personal protective equipment. Residential programs offer the highest level of care for addiction treatment, involving an extended stay at the treatment center.

Going Through Medical Detox

Prior to engaging in treatment for a substance use disorder it is necessary to first complete a medically supervised detox and withdrawal program. Going through the medical detox is difficult, as it involves the body and brain attempting to stabilized as it adjusts to the absence of the substance. This leads to withdrawal symptoms, which differ in severity due to such factors as the length of addiction history, the consumption level, the age and health of the individual, the substance itself, and the presence of any coexisting mental health conditions.

Detox and withdrawal may be completed in as short as 4 or 5 days up to two or more weeks, depending on the acuity of the disease and the substance being detoxed. Opioids and benzodiazepines generally take longer because these substances will involve a tapering process to minimize health risks during withdrawal. Most alcohol detoxes take about one week.

Through the duration of the detox the individual will be closely monitored. As withdrawal symptoms emerge and intensify medications will be provided to help minimize the discomfort and pain. Psychological support will also be provided to help coach the individual through the peak phase, which is when many will give up, and guide them safely to the finish line.

What to Expect in Residential Addiction Treatment

The residential addiction treatment setting provides 24/7 monitoring and support and a full schedule of daily therapeutic activities. Treatment elements include:

  • Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy helps individuals explore underlying emotional issues, as well as learn new ways to respond to stress or triggering situations. By adopting new ways of thinking and responding, the individual can apply these strategies in recovery and choose sobriety over substance use.
  • Group therapy. Small groups of clients gather to discuss common issues regarding addiction and mental health challenges. A therapist leads the meetings, providing a topic of discussion and then facilitating the conversation. Groups are beneficial in recovery, allowing participants to develop bonds with each other and share their personal stories.
  • Family or couples therapy. For many, the family members or spouses have been deeply affected by their loved one’s addiction behaviors. Family members and couples are taught to define healthy boundaries, how to provide support without codependency and enabling, and learn more effective communication skills.
  • Medication management. Some clients will benefit from medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. Certain drugs, such as Vivitrol and Suboxone, have been found to be helpful in early recovery. The drugs help the body to gradually reduce the desire and cravings for the substance, thereby decreasing the risk of relapse.
  • Recovery meetings. Many rehabs include 12-step or similar programming into the treatment plan. Some rehabs select Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step philosophy while others adapt a non 12-step program like SMART Recovery. Other rehabs offer access to both types of recovery programs, providing options for clients.
  • Addiction education. Treatment for an addiction includes learning about how substances impact the brain. Rehabs offer class sessions that focus on the neuroscience; how the brain is altered by the substance or behavioral addiction. Clients create their own individual relapse prevention strategy and are taught recovery skills to equip themselves when triggers or stressors threaten sobriety.
  • Adjunctive therapies. Increasingly, addiction treatment plans include complementary therapies that can augment the clinical effects of psychotherapy. For instance, someone struggling with a past trauma that has contributed to substance abuse may benefit from eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), which can be used in tandem with exposure therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy to help the client overcome the effect of the trauma.
  • Recreational therapies. Today’s rehabs understand the benefit of adding recreational and holistic activities to the curriculum. These help balance the stress of rehab with enjoyable diversions that also contribute to enhanced wellbeing. Regular exercise is encouraged, and most rehabs offer some type of sports activities. Holistic therapies such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and art therapy are also beneficial to securing the mind-body connection.
  • Nutritional counseling. Restoring physical and mental health following a substance use disorder is a primary recovery goal. Addiction can deplete physical health and create nutritional deficiencies. Many rehabs provide nutritional counseling along with healthy dietary options that offer restorative health solutions during treatment and beyond. As the body and brain repair functioning through a healthy diet and regular exercise, additional benefits are enjoyed such as better sleep quality and improved mood.

Coronavirus and Addiction Recovery Support Sources

While the coronavirus has put a serious crimp on the ability to participate in a local 12-step meeting or SMART Recovery group, these important sources of support are still available via video conferencing software programs. Recovery meetings are abundant online, making it extremely convenient to reach out to others in recovery from the comfort of home. Because these meetings are virtual, there are virtually hundreds of meetings accessible at all times of the day.

Capo by the Sea Provides Residential Addiction Treatment in Orange County

Capo by the Sea is a luxury treatment center located in a beautiful South Orange County beachside community. This premier treatment center is CARF certified, meaning it adheres to the industry standards dictated by a global commission to certify that addiction treatment facilities offer the highest quality. Capo By the Sea is also dedicated to following all Coivid-19 safety guidelines. The compassionate, expert clinical staff will guide you or a loved one toward a new healthy, sober life. Do not let coronavirus prevent you from achieving sobriety. For more information, please contact Capo By the Sea today at 888-529-2114.