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Addiction, Physical Health, and the COVID-19 Outbreak

We’re facing uncertain times. Throughout the United States, people are staying away from others and self-isolating in their homes. While this will help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19, for those who struggle with substance abuse, this time can be challenging. During extended free time, some might feel tempted to abuse drugs and alcohol. And addiction and physical health are closely linked. Some drugs can cause problems in the lungs, liver, and heart. Knowing how to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak and the tools available to help in recovery can make a difference.

Addiction and Physical Health

Drugs and alcohol cause both short-term and long-term effects on physical health. While prolonged substance abuse will more significantly impact health, short-term problems can also be serious. Some of the negative effects of substance abuse include the following:

  • Risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, or infection through injections
  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents due to driving while impaired
  • Changes in the brain from long-term drug use can lead to depression and anxiety
  • Kidney damage is common among users of heroin, MDMA, and ketamine
  • Smoking causes damage to the respiratory system
  • Liver damage from alcohol abuse

Since addiction and physical health are so closely linked, as you enter recovery and spend time sober, you’ll find that you become physically healthier. Many find that focusing on their physical health during their recovery through exercise is a useful outlet and stress reliever.

Addiction During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Increased stress and free time can lead to a greater chance of substance abuse. However, there are some steps to take to maintain recovery and promote good physical health. Although gyms are closed, many fitness classes are available for free online. Even in places with social distancing directives, you can still go for walks and runs.

Regular physical activity can relieve stress and release endorphins. During recovery, avoiding stress is crucial, as turning to drugs or alcohol can be tempting.

Additionally, some people might feel lonely or isolated while socially distancing. One benefit of inpatient addiction treatment centers is the support and structure they provide. However, even without access to a residential treatment center, those seeking help with substance abuse problems can benefit from virtual treatment. Many 12-step programs are available online as well as individual therapy. These group programs are typically free and can provide necessary support during times of financial uncertainty.

Telemedicine, in which doctors can diagnose and prescribe treatments over a video call, is increasing in popularity. Attempting to detox alone can be dangerous. However, with the support of experienced staff and medical interventions when necessary, you can safely detox and begin your recovery.

Fears of contracting the coronavirus might keep some from seeking treatment. However, since addiction and physical health are so closely connected, continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol can actually cause further complications from COVID-19. Treating both addiction and physical health during the COVID-19 outbreak should still be a priority.

At WeRecover, we can help you find a treatment center virtually, so you can still practice social distancing while working on your recovery.

Staying Healthy While Social Distancing

It’s important to stay healthy during this extended time at home, but overcoming addiction alone can be challenging. However, at WeRecover, we can help you get connected with an addiction treatment center near you. The experienced teams at the centers we partner with know the connection between addiction and physical health. Keep your recovery a priority through virtual group and individual therapy and other support even while social distancing. Find out more today.

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