"A huge section of the population that has been un accounted for the world over during the lockdown for Covid -19 have been those suffering from addiction to alcohol /drugs.
A person addicted to alcohol/drugs/prescription medication always ensures that one has enough stock to last a period of time. However, the nature of the disease of addiction is that bigger the stock, greater the consumption. Hence, the stock gets over quickly. In the case of drug addictions the risk of Over Dosing increases. In alcoholism, binge drinking happens.
What happens once the stocks get over? In the current lockdown the alcohol stores have been shut in some countries. It is a Catch 22 situation. It has put a stop to a possible increase in consumption in those who are “social drinkers”.
There have been cases of the inevitable, withdrawals in those suffering from addiction to alcohol has been on the rise. There have been 6 deaths only through withdrawals from addiction to alcohol that have occurred in the state of Kerala in India, that have been reported. There would have been more cases that have gone un reported.
Access to medical care for withdrawals is also less due to the current medical nightmare and also due to the stigma of the problem of the addiction issue becoming known. Mental health facilities are being flooded by families getting their loved ones who are behaving weirdly due to non- availability of the substance of their choice.
In those addicted to drugs, getting supply has become very difficult. The withdrawals in drugs can be extremely severe and several times fatal.
Excessive consumption and withdrawals leads to worsening of situations in the families that were already dysfunctional thereby becoming a living daily nightmare. Instances of violence, physical and verbal abuse, sexual abuse increases. Suicides and homicides increase.
Someone with an addictive personality also can go through strong emotional swings due to anxiety generated by the situation. Using, at other times is usually hidden from the family and limited to outside the house. When forced to stay at home, this can result in fights and arguments as the reality surfaces , creating and increasing an existing sense of unmanageability. One would feel trapped and cornered and helpless.
Most residential treatment facilities would baulk at taking in new clients without the appropriate COVID -19 negative tests not wanting to risk the health of existing clients , hence, options of residential stays diminish too. Self-help group meetings are also not conducted due to the lockdown. A feeling of despair should not set in especially in those who are in early recovery. Slips and relapses can happen.
Families ( co-dependents) would need even more extensive support during these trying times.
This is the time for addiction counsellors, family therapists and mental healthcare workers to extend their time and compassion to help such individuals and their families who are in distress through means of virtual media and telecommunication channels. There are online self-help meetings held through virtual media across the world.
Anatta too provides support online through our ever available helpline numbers and through visual virtual media .
Let us extend our support to these individuals who are marginalized by society , but who , in reality need our love, compassion, understanding and help during these COVID-19 times.