COVID-19 continues to cause great loss around the globe, including the loss of loved ones, livelihood, financial and personal security, and more. Some of these losses may have long-lasting and possibly permanent effects.
Loved Ones Dying Alone
One of the most wrenching losses for many of us is the inability to be physically present with a loved one who is sick or dying. Our need to comfort a suffering loved one, and to say our final goodbyes, is deeply important. Being denied those moments can cause immense grief, frustration, and guilt.
Out of necessity, many families are turning to virtual visits and increased telephone and email communication. They are also relying on health care staff to stand vigil during a loved one’s final moments. Some hospitals are providing electronic devices to patients who do not have them or setting up Zoom or other conference calls to facilitate contact.
Medical Procedures Put on Hold
The Department of Health and Human Services has recommended that elective surgeries and other urgent procedures be delayed if possible. Providers are asked to weigh patient risk, hospital bed availability and staff safety when deciding whether a procedure can be safely postponed.
COVID-19 is causing a severe disruption of our economy nationwide. Manufacturers are not producing enough goods, delivery services are disrupted, and for certain products, such as bulk vegetables used by restaurants, not enough people want to buy them right now, causing waste.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) predicts global trade to fall by 13 to 32 percent this year “as the COVID 19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world.” Many financial experts expect the U.S. economy to enter a recession in 2020. The longer it takes for normal business activity to resume, the more severe the recession and the greater the economic impact.
In April, the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression. However, according to a USA Today report, “of the 20.6 million workers who lost jobs in April 18 million said they were on temporary layoff.” Once businesses reopen and resume operations, they have a trained workforce to call back.
Staying Sober During COVID-19
COVID-19 presents some special challenges to those in recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD), too. We’ve talked about some of these risks in earlier posts. Here are a few of the main challenges facing individuals in recovery during the pandemic:
- Isolation: Engaging in social support, 12-step meetings, therapy sessions, and hobbies or other enjoyable activities are key for a successful recovery. When these opportunities are severely curtailed, individuals can see their recovery threatened. Isolation also tends to increase anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions, which increases the risk of relapse.
- Health issues: Drug or alcohol use may contribute to a weakened immune system, making a person more susceptible to the virus. Research has found both opioid and methamphetamine use disorders adversely affect respiratory and pulmonary health, which may also increase vulnerability to COVID-19.
- Mental health challenges: It is important to stay as optimistic as possible during these trying times. Practice relaxation techniques, meditate, pray, stay in contact with those you love, interact with positive people, listen to positive messages, limit negative news, and do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.
Visit the SAMHSA virtual recovery resources page for online help or contact your therapist, physician, or a trusted friend.
Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.