COVID19 and The Addiction Crisis
Updated: Apr 24
Imagine this.... 200 people have a disease and have come to you for the cure. Most of them are financially unable to provide for themselves, so you have a set system that allows for a majority of this process to be funded. Although the government is unable to support your cure financially, you have established efforts that raise enough funds to provide for those seeking this cure. They are living in your homes and are going through the process of healing. Although some take less time, the minimum time to complete your healing process is 12 months. With a 78% success rate of healing, this duration of time and process has proven to be the most effective in the world at healing this disease. In America, around 160,000 people die each year from this disease. That is approximately 411 people every day. Now imagine your established efforts to raise funds have diminished, and your overhead for the cure remains the same. What do you do?! You must continue administering the cure! You must continue allowing people into your place to be cured! Hundreds of lives are on the line. To stop administering the cure is not an option.
This scenario is a reality here in Oklahoma. Adult & Teen Challenge(ATC) of Oklahoma is a residential, faith-based recovery program that provides a solution for anyone struggling with addiction, depression, and any other life-controlling issues. Evangel University recently released a nation-wide study proving that 78% of ATC graduates successfully go on to live healthy and sober lives. Each year in the U.S., an average of 160,000 people die from alcohol or drug-related causes. With mental health, around 47,000 Americans commit suicide each year, with millions more suffering from depression. Because of these staggering numbers and with millions of Americans struggling with addiction and mental illness, we feel that we must continue providing our services, despite the risks and difficulties associated with this world-wide pandemic. COVID19 has hindered the fundraising efforts that we utilize to allow addicts to enter our program at little or no cost, as well as increased the risk and urgency to help addicts.
This scenario is just one of many ways the realm of addiction has been affected by COVID19. The addiction crisis has relentlessly plagued us this century, with a U.S. death toll nearly doubling over the past decade. With the COVID19 complicating the addiction crisis, the issues surrounding the realm of addiction have been heightened for addicts, those in recovery, and for recovery programs. As we dive into this complication, we hope that you are better able to empathize with those battling this addiction crisis.
Below you will find an outline of bullet points regarding how addicts and the addiction recovery system has been greatly affected.
Issues for Addicts
- Mental health issues are already closely related to drug or alcohol abuse. The mental health of addicts is usually more vulnerable, as they are dealing with the effects of being on drugs and coming down from drugs. This could further increase the likelihood of deep depression or suicide.
-Many addicts have underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems due to drug use, and many are smokers which may increase the respiratory issues of COVID19
-Drug and alcohol use weakens your immune system.
-Many drugs such as heroin come are imported into the U.S., especially, through the Mexico border. As these drugs become difficult to obtain, drug dealers will cut their drugs with more dangerous narcotics such as fentanyl.
-Less help for overdose. As hospitals are needing to focus their help towards the individuals diagnosed with COVID19, the ability to fulfill the needs of others would likely be hindered.
-More difficult for individuals to find a recovery program or medical facilities to detox. Many programs and medical withdrawal facilities are not taking new residents, as they are working to prevent the spread of COVID19. Some programs, such as Adult & Teen Challenge of Oklahoma are utilizing quarantine methods to allow individuals to enter their programs and get help with their addiction.
-Addicts stimulus checks may be spent on drug habit. While many people may be utilizing their COVID19 stimulus check on bills and food, many caught in the cycle of addiction may find themselves blowing their money on illicit drugs. With drug addiction, one of the greatest issues is the financial burden caused by purchasing drugs. With $1200, an addict will be able to use that to purchase larger quantities. As a result, we may see a spike in overdose deaths.
Issues for Those in “Recovery” or Past Addicts
-Stress can be a trigger. After being freed from addiction, sometimes individuals can fall back into drug use if they are not careful and manage their sobriety well. Stress and anxiety can be a trigger that causes people to justify substance abuse. With the fear of the virus, possible job loss and isolation, individuals may relapse back into drug and alcohol use. Past addicts must maintain positive habits that allow them to deal with stress and anxiety.
-Recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery are unable to meet in person, although they may have online meetings. This also includes church small groups, which are important to past addicts to continue to maintain their spiritual health.
-Many individuals with past addiction rely on routines to maintain their sobriety. With the virus, routines have been hindered as jobs, churches, and gyms have been shut down.
Issues for the Residential Recovery Programs
-The intake process has become more complicated, as we must question the potential resident’s possible exposure to COVID19, as well as have them medically approved to enter the program.
-Residential programs are forced to keep new residents isolated.
-Many long-term programs have decided not to take new residents into their program until this pandemic has passed.
-Staff members and current students of these residential recovery programs are more at risk.
-Fundraising efforts diminish while the overhead to maintain the program continues.
we are maintaining our mission to “Put Hope Within Reach” of every addict. During this world-wide pandemic, we want to encourage you to reach out to those who have had addictions in the past and check on them to see how they are doing. While we understand the risk associated with this virus, we feel we must keep our doors open. We are working hard to prevent the spread of this virus by taking extra precautions in our intake process, at our thrift stores, and with our other activities. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction or life-controlling issue, now is the perfect time to get help! With the world on pause, we believe this is a great time to pursue change. We are a long-term, faith based recovery program here to help! Go to www.okteenchallenge.com or call 405-600-1920.