Dealing with Addiction During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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With Sara Dungan and Michael Wilkerson

“When you are looking at the TV or on the radio, all of the things that are going on, the morbidity and mortality from the Coronavirus can be overwhelming,” Dr. Michael Wilkerson said when speaking to Sara Dungan about the effects the Coronavirus pandemic has had on people in recovery. “We have to realize, that especially for our patients or family members of people with substance use disorders, there is much higher risk from the substance use disorder than there is from the Coronavirus,” he continued, pointing out the fact that people in recovery are facing a threat that extends beyond this virus. Patients must deal with a new kind of stress and feelings of isolation while living in quarantine. However, this threat is not something that has to be dealt with alone. “That is why we continue to admit patients to Bradford, because it is an essential service and people need help more than ever, during this stressful time,” Dr. Wilkerson explained.

Everyone needs to know, that during this quarantine, you are not alone. There are many resources within and outside of Bradford to help. “Local and National meetings are being coordinated, outpatient programs are providing resources (doing video conferences) and many therapists continue to provide support through video conferences,” Dr. Wilkerson stated. He went on to provide multiple websites to help find these resources, such as like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and The National Institute on Drug Abuse. These sites, Bradford’s website/Facebook page are just a few places to find help in these hard times.

“The biggest concern about people in recovery, especially earlier on, is isolation,” Dr. Wilkerson stated. Fellowship is a major part of 12 Step Recovery and this quarantine has an impact on that aspect of recovery. This does not mean that it is impossible to find this sense of fellowship, it will just be found in a different way. Many programs and meeting have switched to an online format, whether that is Zoom or some other means of communication. These platforms are easily accessible for anyone with access to the internet. Things are changing but people are still finding ways to build connections with others in recovery. You are not alone; you just have to look for the help that is all around you.

Dr. Wilkerson also discussed the things that family members could do to help their loved ones. “They may develop things like being more anxious, problems with sleeping, and a decrease an appetite or an increase in irritability that may just be related to stress and not necessarily chemical relapse… The most important thing is, if you could communicate with your family members about how you can be supportive, especially before those symptoms develop so that if something happens, you have already talked about it. Ask them what kind of symptoms you should look for if they are starting to struggle and what they would want you to do about that,” he advised. The most important thing is the way that the topic is approached. This is not a demand but an offer of assistance during a stressful time. Make sure that your loved one feels loved and knows that they are not fighting this disease by themselves.

“There are a lot of positives (of COVID). There may be more relapses and people may struggle a little bit but you don’t have to do it by yourself. There are a lot of good resources out there.” Dr. Wilkerson said, ending things on a positive note. The most important thing to do is keep an optimistic point of view. There are many things that remain out of our control; we just need to focus on the way that we handle it. Keep moving forward, knowing that you are not fighting alone. There are people out there, fighting the same fight as you and are willing to help. We are here to help.

Bradford is here to help 24 hours a day. Give us a call at 1-888-577-0012 and let one of our experienced treatment guides talk to you about your specific situation. There is hope ahead.

This summary was excerpted from a recent presentation with Dr. Michael Wilkerson and Sara Dungeon. To learn more about upcoming scheduled events, please visit the events section of our website at www.bradfordhealth.com/events

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