COVID-19: The Implications for Individuals That Suffer From Substance Abuse

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shaped our reality of things. People falling ill, having to cope with social distancing, routines interrupted and milestones being cancelled are some of the more talked about effects of the coronavirus enforced lockdown. However, COVID-19 is having an effect on people that cope with substance abuse problems — and it’s not a good one.

Coronavirus is a very real threat to the human population in so many ways. For people in the middle of addiction treatment or recovery, it can be most felt in the form of emotional distress. Over the course of the early weeks of the pandemic, Canada has seen a sharp economic downturn. With a steep financial crisis being predicted, coupled with the uncertain nature of the pandemic, it is only normal to see a climb in substance abuse use and issues.

For context, after the financial crisis of ‘08, many countries experienced an increase in anxiety, drug use and depression rates. Already, we are seeing evidence that points to a spike in substance abuse rates within the country. However, the effect of Coronavirus for people with substance abuse is far more than just a spike in frequency. For people that require addiction treatment in cities like Vancouver, it may mean a sharp change in the efficiency and medium of treatment. This pandemic has affected the normal dispensing of addiction treatment and recovery services.

Here at Addiction Healing Centre, we are doing our best to brace for the impact on the section of the population that deals with substance abuse. Now more than ever, the world must join hands to recognize possible problem points and take steps to nullify them. As we move through this article, we will discuss how COVID-19 is affecting the population of Canada that suffers from substance abuse.

Related article: You’ll See the Colossal Effects of Substance Abuse Unfold

How COVID-19 is Affecting Addiction Healthcare and Treatment 

For people dealing with substance abuse issues in Vancouver, addiction treatment services are a vital part of their daily lives. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and its unique carry-ons mean that the addiction treatment system is seeing severe strain.

Social distancing, self-isolation and the closure of public spaces are some of the necessary measures to flatten the curve. However, these measures are also making it hard for people that need addiction treatment services to get it. As much as COVID-19 is increasing the need for substance abuse treatment, it is also reducing the effectiveness of “outdated” systems.

For instance, group meetings such as Smart Recovery and AA have been shown to help members cope during addiction recovery. While they are also paired with individual counselling and therapy sessions, these meetings are the pinnacle of addiction treatment for many people. With many of these meetings being cancelled, the addiction healthcare pyramid is experiencing a drastic shift.

In the same vein, the COVID-19 pandemic is also affecting the dispensing of crucial medication needed for addiction treatment. Shortage of staff, general service disruption, closures and restrictions on free movement have interrupted the easy flow of these drugs. This has led to reduced access for people who need certain medication to prevent painful withdrawal.

On the other side of things, the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic means that addiction services in Vancouver are finding new ways to be effective. For instance, telehealth capabilities are being implemented. Also, the utilization of virtual support groups is a game-changer for people through going addiction recovery in Vancouver and other cities across Canada.

Here at Addiction Healing Centre, we are going above and beyond to make sure that we remain open for those that need us. Pre-admission surveys, social distancing treatments, virtual support and strict disinfecting routines are some of the measures we are taking to make sure that we can provide addiction services in Vancouver, Toronto and the GTA.

Related article: Addiction Treatment in Vancouver: The Importance of Accountability during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Coronavirus Might Be Increasing Substance And Alcohol Intake 

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic may be increasing the rate at which people consume alcohol, marijuana and other related substances. This is directly related to the economic downturn caused by the novel virus. While a few industries have been able to go remote, those in the transportation, hospitality, construction and related niches simply can’t. 

For this set of people, the economy is changing. For those battling addiction treatment and working in the industries previously mentioned, Coronavirus is a stressor that is cause for concern. Typically, recession times see an increase in drug and alcohol abuse. For COVID-19, the implications may be worse. This is due to the simple fact that coping mechanisms that would be useful in periods of financial decline are not readily available during this period. 

Thousands of people have been laid off due to the containing restrictions on movement and social interaction. Some people may have the unique opportunity of being able to return to a job/business once the virus passes. However, for some, it may mean unemployment for the foreseeable future. For those facing addiction, it may mean relapse and a slew of other unwanted scenarios. The best way to mitigate this problem is to connect these people to psychological and addiction support that can help with the distress associated with this period.

Related article: Do Something When You See the Frightening Signs of Alcoholism Today

COVID-19: The Risk For Active Users 

People that are active in the middle of substance abuse are not exempt from the negative effects of Coronavirus. To put in a better perspective, the main life-threatening effects of opioid overdose are to drastically reduce breathing rate and stop the affected from breathing. Coincidentally, COVID-19 comes with breathing difficulties. This doubles the risk for those suffering from substance abuse problems in Vancouver.

In the same vein, drug and substance abuse is enabled by a slew of equipment that is often shared. However, the nature of the coronavirus means that group drug users are at a high risk of contracting the disease. Droplets inhalation, vaping and injection equipment may increase the spread of the virus. 

The virus that causes COVID-19 is majorly spread by person-to-person contact via respiratory droplets produced during a cough or a sneeze. Additionally, the virus can also survive for hours on certain surfaces. Therefore, active substance users who are usually in groups are at the risk of exposure to the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, homelessness is often a feature of the lives of people struggling with substance abuse. For this category of people, social distancing and self-isolation may be a distant impossibility. Therefore, as part of a response that can help flatten the curve and boost mental health, the city needs to address the needs of those in unstable housing situations. 

In Summary

In summary, the coronavirus pandemic means that the world has had to find new ways to adjust for those that need addiction treatment. Drug treatment services, pharmacies and other addiction services are some of the institutions that need to find ways to stay open during this period. 

At Addiction Healing Centre, we are doing our bit to make sure that the pandemic doesn’t leave Vancouver and other cities with an addiction services crisis. Also, we have taken stringent measures to make sure that we can provide safe, addiction treatment services during this period. Discuss your options with any of our representatives. Contact Addiction Healing Centre today!

Related article: Where to Get Help When You Need to Stop Substance Abuse?

Colossal Effects of Substance Abuse Unfold

You’ll See the Colossal Effects of Substance Abuse Unfold

Substance abuse is one of the most pressing issues in today’s world that affects people in different age groups, economic status, and gender. It refers to the hazardous and improper use of both prescription and illegal drugs as they are being used for non-medical purposes. The abuse of these drugs and substances has to encompass effects on a person from physiological to the way that person acts, feels, and thinks through attacking the nervous system functions. Drug abuse leads to addiction and physical dependence and it has various signs and symptoms as well as different ways of prevention. 

Substance Abuse and Addiction Overview 

 The Canadian Center for Substance Abuse focuses their attention on key issues that touch problematic substance and drug abuse, highlighting the practices and policies for solutions. One of the highlights in their series of researches and studies is the detailed account of the effects of these illegal drugs to the person due to addiction and dependence.  

 

How does addiction manifest in a person? 

 A person that regularly uses alcohol or drugs regardless of its impacts and consequences is potentially grappling with addiction. The truth is that these addicted individuals are not even aware of their behavior and how it is becoming out of control and affecting them and other people. Addiction to a substance may also involve psychological dependence and not necessarily on the physical aspect.   

 

What is psychological dependence on substances? 

 An addicted person is psychologically dependent, a condition also referred to as the dependence of the mind. The individual finds it extremely difficult to stop using a substance or to even stop thinking about the substance they are addicted to. There is a sense of strong craving for that particular substance which could be internally or externally triggered.  

 

Short-Term and Long-Term Substance Abuse Leads To… 

 You or your loved one may be suffering from addiction and that has long-term and sometimes irreversible effects to the body, particularly the brain or nervous system. Substance abuse may temporarily or permanently affect the following:  

    • Behaviour 
  • Memory 
    • Cognitive Activity 
  • Making Decisions 

 

There are also factors that have a strong influence on a person’s tendency to fall for substance abuse and these may include the following: 

    • Weight, sex, and age 
    • Level and amount of drug consumption 
    • Mental or medical conditions 
  • Use of other substances such as over-the-counter medications, alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs 

 

How to Prevent Substance Abuse and Addiction  

Education and proper information are vital in order to help people, including your loved ones, to prevent substance addiction and all its devastating effects. Families, communities, schools, and the media have crucial roles to play in the prevention of substance abuse among Canadian youths through education. Early intervention programs effectively work as well. 

 Substance abuse is a worldwide problematic issue that needs immediate attention and solution as early as possible. There are various treatments and preventative measures that could stop the abuse of substance and its destructive effects on a person, including the possibility of overdose and death.   

Drug Law in Canada

Drug Law in Canada 

Drug Law in Canada 

These days, drugs come in great abundance and they can be found almost everywhere. There are over-the counter (OTC) drugs that can be purchased and taken without a doctor’s prescription. Other types of drugs can never be taken out from the pharmacy unless prescribed by a licensed physician. The number of drugs is definitely overwhelming and taking the time to familiarize the different classifications of drugs should be highly considered in order to avoid erroneous and/or illegal use. 

“Schedules” Meanings Drug Law in Canada 

Controlled substances and drugs are strictly observed and governed in Canada by the CDSA or Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a federal legislation of the country. Drug law is enforceable in all places in the country and such law is based on eight schedules. Each of these schedules lists of controlled substances and drugs which have been sorted according to their danger levels. Controlled substances are listed are listed in schedules I to V. 

    • Schedule I. This schedule contains the most dangerous drugs which include cocaine and heroin. 
    • Schedule II. This one lists cannabis, popularly known as marijuana and its derivatives. 
    • Schedule III. This schedule is composed of the more dangerous drugs like lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD and amphetamines. 
    • Schedule IV. Drugs that are dangerous but are known to be therapeutic are includes in this schedule. One of these drugs is barbiturates. 
  • Schedules V and VI. These schedules of drugs contain precursors which are required to create controlled substances. 
  • Schedules VII and VIII. Contains drugs that have a certain amount of cannabis as well as cannabis resin which are commonly required for sentencing and charging purposes.  

Common Drug-Related Offenses 

There are certain types of drug-related which are commonly observed in Canada and these include the following: 

Possession 

When one is charged with possession then this literally means the person is caught in custody or possession of another person, having personal possession, or having it in anywhere for his own benefit or use. If a member of a particular group possesses an illegal drug with the consent and knowledge of other persons in the group, this makes every group member involved. IN short, everyone in the group is charged with possession. 

According to CDSA Section 4(1), anyone is prohibited to possess any substance contained in Schedules 1, 2, and 3. However, there are certain people that work in the authorities (police officers and researchers) who are given the permission and authority to carry and possess any of these substances under controlled circumstances. A person who is charged with possession of these substances is sentenced depending on the amount of substance in possession and the schedule of the substance involved. For a simple possession charge, the maximum sentence is seven years. 

Trafficking 

This kind of drug-related offence in the country entails the act of selling, giving, administering, transporting, delivering and sending. CDSA prohibits these acts in relation to any substances contained in Schedules 1, 2, 3, and 4. 

Double-Doctoring 

This kind of offense practically means obtaining prescriptions or drugs from two or more doctors. The CDSA has a law on double-doctoring and the sentence given to an offender is based on the schedule of drugs involved and usually ranges to a maximum of seven years. 

Ways to help a recovering addict

Ways to Help a Recovering Addict

Substance abuse is a continuous and serious problem for Canadians. Many people are dealing with substance dependencies all over the country, and as a result, many people are directly affected by their struggles.

Whether you’re a friend, family member or acquaintance of an individual who has experienced substance addiction, you’d be surprised how helpful or harmful even the simplest of actions can be.

If you’re in the presence of a recovering addict, there are things that you can do to help them continue forth on their journey to sobriety Encourage their hard work and progress with these ways to help a recovering addict:

  • Educate Yourself

It is important not to assume that you know everything about substance abuse, or what a specific individual has experienced during their journey to recovery. Educating yourself might mean learning what kinds of things can cause addiction and what certain drugs can do to the body.

It can also be very helpful to ask about the personal experience of the recovering addict you know. Try to point out that you only want to educate yourself about the topic so that you may genuinely be able to help them more efficiently.

  • Avoid Judgement

It is never right to be negative towards others; we should always be supporting one another.

Hearing positive reinforcement and support is one of the best ways to help a recovering addict, because it helps to keep them in a healthy mental state. That means offering positive reinforcement, supporting their goals and offering to help them along the way.

  • Remove Triggers

If you still want a recovering addict to be a part of your life, then it is ideal to remove any triggers from the surroundings when they’re around.

That means keeping substances out of your home when they’re with you, and considering all of the places you’re taking them. Avoid bars and clubs, and instead try a new activity together like hiking or curling.

Removing recovering addicts from potential trigger situations is a great way to keep them on their new path. If you don’t know what places and things set them off, ask them so that you can be prepared.

  • Try New Things

Recovering addicts often find that staying busy keeps their mind off of wanting to relapse. If this is the case, consider taking them out to try some new things.

It can be anything: Sports games, painting, picnics, etc. Trying new things will show them all of the great opportunities they were missing out on before, and they may even begin to enjoy their new activities more frequently.

This is also a great way to help them meet new crowds of people, and to move away from previous people or places that had a bad influence on them.

  • Listen

Always be willing to listen to a friend or family member who is a recovering addict. Even if they don’t make it known, some people really need someone to talk to.

Keep in mind, actively listening won’t just mean hearing what they have to say; get rid of distractions and communicate with them by both listening and offering your own sound advice.

Conclusion

Addiction recovery is much easier for individuals who have a sound support system of family and friends. If you want to help someone on their journey to sobriety, consider these ways to help a recovering addict.

If you notice the individual struggling, suggest that they join a support group, or volunteer to go with them for support.

Cocaine

Workplace Substance Abuse

Workplace substance abuse may not be making news headlines consistently, but it’s certainly affecting the success of companies on a daily basis. When it comes to the number of people abusing drugs, approximately 70% are employed, implying that many of the people who are currently on the clock at work recently used or are presently under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This is unfortunate, since most jobs require focus and accuracy; not to mention, many occupations involve operating machinery and traveling, which can increase the potential for accidents tenfold.

The Impact of Workplace Substance Abuse

Substance use at work not only creates a dangerous environment for the user and other employees, but it also attributes to inefficiency and reduced productivity.

When an employee or employer cannot give their full attention to a job, it is often that the job is done incorrectly, or not at all. Companies also struggle with employees missing work days, due to the effects of substance abuse. In a staggering statistic, drug abuse in the workplace results in approximately $81 billion dollars every year.

Employers and Substance Abuse

When it comes to employees who struggle with substance abuse, employers have to worry both about their well-being, as well as the good of their company.

Some of the problems that may arise with employees that use on the job include theft, tardiness, poor decision-making, decreased efficiency, low morale and performance problems.

Employers may have to spend unwanted dollars on drug testing and disciplinary acts for these individuals, as well as having to spend extra income on the training of new employees.

Employees and Substance Abuse

Although drug abuse is related to a wide range of unique factors for every addict, stressful situations related to the job may be a factor of their workplace substance abuse.

Some of the common causes of using at work include long hours, irregular shifts, isolation, repetitiveness, low job satisfaction and more.

It is important for employers to recognize the potential for substance abuse in the workplace, and how they can help their staff to avoid these kinds of situations. By offering resources and support for workers struggling with substance use, it is possible for employers and their teams to meet on a common ground and find solutions that will benefit both sides.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Those employers who are struggling with workplace substance abuse issues might consider implementing an employee assistance program. These programs can provide employees with the resources and tools they need to get the right kind of help, while also allowing them to perform better at work.

As a result of recognizing potential issues and offering support, employers may notice decreased lateness, improved performance, happier moods and improved efficiency.

Although these programs may cost a lot up front, the result of better performance, lower turnover and decreased absenteeism may offset those costs.

It is not uncommon to find substance abuse in the workplace; in fact, all employers should always be on the lookout for potential signs. For employers, it’s key to keep in mind that you have the power to make changes in your company, both for the good of the business, as well as for the good of the employees.