As the social distancing required to lull the discourse of COVID-19 continues throughout many states across America, the use of substances is still on the rise.
From vaping, methamphetamine, opioids, down to marijuana, the smoked/injected substances cause issues to the pulmonary system in a person. Added to the pulmonary harm from the widespread virus also effecting the lungs, this puts a damper on how to effectively help and treat those suffering from substance abuse while also being cautious to the virus.
Most people who suffer from substance abuse are already dehumanized and underserved in the healthcare system, putting them at risk further for COVID-19 and the lack of available treatments – not only for COVID-19 but also medication treatment for substance abuse. People who use feel a stigma for getting help. Feeling mistreated or discriminated will push a person to self-isolate more than what is already being done to curb the virus. Now, more than ever there can be no discrimination. With problems already due to lack of funding, housing and availabilities for healthcare insurance to cover the cost of treatment, only furthers the issue with those suffering from addiction.
And with very little knowledge available about the true implications to this virus, based on history, there is a significant increase of those who use substances will have a high risk of pulmonary issues.
With this interesting dilemma poses this question – what to do about it? How to facilities treat the suffering while also being cautious?
Healthcare workers and facilities are taking fewer persons to help curve the spread of COVID-19 but it also poses an issue to those who may overdose, as getting Naloxone to someone can be difficult. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has set guidelines for take-home self-administered medication to those previously using substances. But it also presents an issue to pharmacies struggling to get certain medications in and provided when most of America is still shut down.
Those who use methamphetamine, there is no drug like Naloxone to reverse the overdose. There is also no drug to curb the receptors in the brain with medicated assisted treatment for those who use methamphetamine.
Social distancing required to curb the virus is another challenge. Those who use need social involvement and access to therapy to continue their progress for being drug free. If social interactions cannot be obtained by an individual it may fuel their mental stresses, negative emotions and cause regression.
Also, people in the healthcare field need end the stigma and realize those who suffer from substance abuse disorders are not using due to poor choices and lack of character/morals but the brain circuitry system is altered. Understanding this, healthcare workers need to help and treat those with these addiction disorders with kindness and compassion like anyone else.
In conclusion, there are many factors at play when addressing the virus gripping the world and those who suffer from addition. There is a sole need to unify and help heal the world together with compassion, non-judgment and fair access to healthcare.