Staying on track while social distancing
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on our everyday lives. With many businesses and public places closed, and people encouraged to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible, many feel more isolated and stressed than ever before.
While social distancing is crucial to controlling the spread of coronavirus, dealing with this new normal can be especially challenging while trying to recover from opioid addiction. Many rely on daily routines and support networks to help maintain recovery, and both have been severely disrupted by the pandemic.
If you are recovering from addiction, remember that it’s normal to feel stressed and anxious given the current situation. Here are some tips to help you better cope:
- Stay busy: While maintaining your regular routine may be impossible, staying busy and structuring your day will help you reduce stress, cope with boredom, and stay on track. Now that most of us are staying home and have more time on our hands, it’s also a good time to pick up a new hobby or project.
- Reach out to friends and family regularly: Even though everyone is social distancing, you are not alone. Staying connected with the people in your support network is central to your recovery, and even more important now. Try to stay in touch regularly by having online video chats or phone calls with those you care about.
- Get additional help if needed: Reach out and speak to your health care provider since they may be able to direct you to reliable resources. Many physicians, counsellors, and therapists are able to provide support through virtual or telephone appointments. There are also many online support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous that you can join to talk to others in recovery who may be able to offer tips and support.
Recently, laws and regulations on dispensing methadone and suboxone have changed to make it easier for people who are self-isolating to get their medications. Many clinics are offering appointments through virtual or telephone consultations. Your pharmacy may also be able to arrange for your methadone or suboxone doses to be delivered to your home. You should let your doctor and pharmacist know if you are self-isolating because you are high-risk due to underlying medical conditions or if you suspect you may have COVID-19.
Staying safe during the pandemic
If you’re an active drug user, it is more important now than ever to practice safe drug use. Besides the general hygiene tips everyone should follow (e.g. washing your hands regularly, coughing into your sleeves, etc.), remember to:
- Minimize sharing of supplies: Do not share supplies, such as injection equipment and utensils. If you can, make sure you have enough supplies to last 2 to 4 weeks so that you won’t have to share or re-use your supplies.
- Keep clean and practice good hygiene: Regularly clean and disinfect any surfaces and supplies that are frequently touched with antimicrobial wipes, alcohol, or bleach. Wash your hands regularly, or use hand sanitizers if you are on the go with no access to soap and water.
- Buddy up: Using drugs with a buddy is safer than using alone. Have a buddy that can regularly check in and respond in case of an emergency. However, to avoid passing the virus to one another, stay at least 2 metres (or 6 feet) away from your buddy.
- Be prepared: Have a backup plan in case you can no longer get your drugs from your regular supplier. If you must use a new supply, be cautious.
- Have a naloxone kit handy: Ensure you and the people you’re with know how to use a naloxone kit and can recognize signs of an overdose. You can get a naloxone kit at most pharmacies and public health service locations.
It’s normal to be feeling a variety of emotions and levels of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Practicing positive coping strategies and having healthy habits are important in maintaining recovery and keeping yourself safe during these difficult times.
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