Addicted In America: Crisis within a pandemic

The acceleration of overdose deaths is a crisis within the COVID pandemic.

In the series “Addicted in America,” ABC7 News will share stories of those living with addiction, resources for help and ways to manage the disruption of daily life as the coronavirus and addiction intertwine.

Isolation isn’t just a result of the pandemic, it’s a requirement.

“It’s been quite problematic for our folks who are suffering from addiction,” said Dr. Lauren Grawert, psychiatrist and addiction specialist at Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic.

During a Zoom interview with ABC7 News reporter Victoria Sanchez, she said COVID-19 is amplifying substance abuse and triggering relapse for those living with addiction.

“And that really encapsulates alcohol, that encapsulates opioids, illicit drugs. It can even encapsulate food,” she explained.

“If you’re home all the time and you’re addicted to alcohol, you have your bar or kitchen right next to you all the time. Has that been a problem?” Sanchez asked.

“Yes, 100 percent. You hit the nail on the head,” she said.

According to the CDC, more than 81,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States from May 2019 to May 2020. That is the highest recorded number in a year’s span. 

As the world continues living through the coronavirus, the numbers aren’t dropping.

As social distancing canceled in-person meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, many peer groups moved online. Telemedicine also grew exponentially expanding access to therapy and medication.

“People are able to seek care a lot more easily and no so ‘in your face’ so to say, than before. I think it’s a permanent change and one of the few good things to come out of the pandemic,” said Grawert.

For those needing help, she suggests starting small. Begin a conversation with family or close friends. 

If you’re the one someone is coming to, just listening can help start the road to recovery.

 

Originally published on WJLA.com.

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