Addiction during the coronavirus pandemic

Key points

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to addiction rehabilitation facilities, group meetings, and treatment centers.
  • Stress factors such as unemployment and social isolation increase the risk of relapse.
  • Technology plays an important role in helping people get the care they need. Online options including video conferencing, hotline, phone and email may be helpful.

COVID-19 presents unique challenges for all of us. In particular, a group finds that face-to-face services are almost impossible to obtain at home, which is causing difficulties and challenges that they did not anticipate.

More than 20 million adults 18 years of age or older suffer from substance use disorders. For many people, rehabilitation facilities, treatment centers, outpatient services, support meetings, and personal therapy are part of their ongoing treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, most of these services have changed from face-to-face to online, telemedicine or telephone consultation to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Not only will this change how or whether someone will get help due to addiction, the effects of increased stress may trigger previous illnesses in the person who is recovering. good news? During this period, people recovering and their loved ones can use resources.

How people get treatment and support

“COVID-19 presents a clear challenge to rehabilitation facilities, group meetings, and treatment centers,” said Dayry Hulkow, junior therapist at Arete Recovery, Delphi Health Group facilities. People who require a higher level of care (such as medical detoxification and hospitalization) may be restricted by geographic location. In other words, Hulkow points out that emergency services are always available.

The executive directors of Innovation 360 and clinical psychologists Kevin Gilliland and PsyD said that addiction specialists are facing challenges to meet the needs of people who are still addicted and those who are trying to stay healthy during times of stress.

Kevin Gilliland, PhD in Psychology

We can still have some face-to-face meetings with all CDC preventive measures and try to make decisions based on the severity of the addiction and other factors (such as the patient’s support system, risk of recurrence, other mental illnesses).

— Kevin Gilliland, PhD in Psychology

In addition, people can get support online or through phone and video conferences and conversations. There are also some great written resources that are helpful to some people.

If you are getting a lower level of care, such as 12-step support, you can still get the service through the online format. There are also many help lines and hotlines provided by phone or e-mail both locally and across the country.

Hulkow also emphasized the importance of maintaining virtual contact with supportive family and friends as much as possible.

To help promote treatment and rehabilitation, many support groups, organizations, and treatment centers have turned to an online mode of providing services. Through video chats, teleconferences, real-time video conferences, and personal consultation meetings, people with substance use disorders can continue to receive help while waiting for the removal of the social distancing order.

How increased stressor triggers relapse

Many experts say that addiction is an isolated disease, and social distancing measures may affect the possibility of people turning to drugs and alcohol. Many survivors rely on the interpersonal contact you experience in a support meeting or outpatient group consultation environment, which is further exacerbated by the fact.

Hulkow said that disease stress, social isolation and unemployment are important triggers for relapse. Many people turn to alcohol, drugs, and even food to cope with stressful situations.

“Stress is particularly problematic for addicts, because the main way to control the spread of this virus is social isolation, and isolation is the most serious symptom of mental illness,” Gilliland said. “Isolation is the risk of restoring or upgrading the use of a substance.”


Unemployment and economic difficulties are also the main sources of stress for human beings, and Gilliland said this will quickly lead to depression. Unfortunately, it also increases people’s chances of using substances. “Sometimes, we abuse drugs to get rid of a feeling, not for a feeling,” he added.

Social isolation

However, everyone started to feel a lack of actual presence. “There is no way to avoid the fact that the phone is not as useful as a visit in person,” Gilliland said. “As a provider, we don’t know how long this kind of remote support (phone/video) can continue to help people stay abstinent. This is a whole new field,” Gilliland said.

From a therapeutic point of view, Gilliand said that his organization is trying to balance providing treatment for a disease that can kill people with helping to keep them healthy from the virus.

“Unfortunately, most of the work during this period fell on the shoulders of struggling people,” Gilliland said. Because of this, anyone affected by addiction needs to figure out what helps and what does not.

He said: “When someone helps you, it is a tough job, and when you feel that we are all tired and lacking energy, this job will be very hard.” Gilliland’s suggestion? Stick to it.

Kevin Gilliland, PhD in Psychology

Focus on putting one foot in front of the other today and try something to push you forward. It’s today.

— Kevin Gilliland, PhD in Psychology

Provide addiction and rehabilitation resources online

Although the current situation makes access to services difficult, many therapists, addiction specialists, support groups and treatment centers are turning to online forums to continue providing care. Many therapists can conduct personal consultations, couple consultations, and family consultations online. There are also some great video resume meetings and podcasts available.

In addition, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has released clinical guidelines and educational and information resources on addiction medicine in real time.

If you are currently under the care of a doctor or mental health professional, please discuss with them how to obtain services. You can also find support and information from various organizations that now provide online services. In addition to the resources listed below, VigorTip has created a comprehensive list with links to help lines, support meetings, and telemedicine services. Or link directly to these organizations:

What this means to you

Seeking support during this difficult time is vital to our physical and mental health. If you are struggling with substance abuse issues, be sure to talk to your doctor or mental health professional. In addition to direct care, they can also help you find online resources and support meetings.

Finally, if you are considering suicide or suspect that your loved one is in danger of harming yourself, seek help immediately. Call 911 and, if possible, stay with friends or family until you are taken care of by a mental health professional.

In this difficult period, the VigorTip team is always at your service. We will continue to update our website and provide you with the latest information related to COVID-19 and your health. take care of yourself.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may receive updated information while reading this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit our Coronavirus News page.