The State of Addiction and Recovery in the Age of COVID-19

COVID-19 recovery and addiction state of the union

Overcoming Diseases of Isolation

Addictions of all kinds, including alcoholism, have long been called the diseases of isolation. As you can imagine, this concern has only intensified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many paths to recovery, and the one that seems to work the best is treatment coupled with an ongoing Twelve Step program where there is social interaction with like-minded people, who can support each other in recovery.

I recently read an article written by the late Bill Wilson, a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, wherein he wrote, “Because of our kinship in suffering, our communication with other alcoholics is simply a language of the heart.”

We have all experienced the comfort and hope when talking to someone who has been down our own path and successfully came out on the other side. It doesn’t matter if that situation happens to be an opiate or other drug addiction, alcoholism, the loss of a loved one, or having been diagnosed with a life threatening disease.

As you can see, fellowship is a key aspect of sustained recovery. What role has increased separation had in substance use nationwide? Furthermore, how can we overcome isolation and foster connection in the midst of a global pandemic?

Substance Use Spikes Due to COVID-19

Let’s go back to that word: ISOLATION! More people are turning to alcohol than ever before because of COVID-19. Many published reports have noted a sharp increase in alcohol sales during the pandemic. Granted, that spike in sales could be from people stockpiling when told by health care professionals and by the Centers for Disease Control, to stay at home and shelter in place. This sales increase also gives concern to alcohol abuse. Isolation is not good for the mental well-being of anyone, and particularly if one suffers from the stress of an addiction or alcoholism.

An Unparalleled Challenge

A recent quote printed in the New York Times by Marvin Ventrell, the Chief Executive of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) said, “In the 80-year history since addiction treatment began, we’ve never experienced anything as challenging as this. You have to put people in social settings to heal, and COVID-19 conspires against that.” So there we go with isolation again. People have to be with people to successfully recover.

Find Recovery During COVID-19

Unfortunately, we have witnessed right here in our Pine belt community several drug overdose deaths during this pandemic time period. It has been heartbreaking for us all. When this kind of pain hits this close to home, it is time for us to put aside the feelings of shame and embarrassment about a loved one with a drug addiction or drinking problem. Addiction and alcoholism both have three components to the misuse of whatever the chemical of choice is: physical, emotional, and spiritual. If all three areas are not addressed, the patient has not been adequately treated. 

At Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, we treat patients holistically. If you have a family member, a loved one, or if you need treatment and support yourself, please visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com, and call Pine Grove for help at 1-888-574-HOPE (4673). An assessment professional with our admissions department will help direct you to the program that will accommodate your needs.

Eileene McRae

This blog post is authored by Eileene McRae, Pine Grove’s Business Development and Alumni Coordinator.

About Pine Grove

Located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is one of the nation’s most comprehensive treatment campuses. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs treat gender specific substance abuse including specialized tracks for co-occurring eating disorders and trauma. Additionally, Pine Grove offers an Intensive Outpatient substance abuse healing program for adults and a separate treatment program specifically for those who are age 55 plus. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual addiction. Inpatient Services including an Adult Psychiatric Unit, along with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, and Outpatient Services are other components.

Pine Grove is a division of Forrest Health, a partnership of healthcare organizations across South Mississippi, and the behavioral healthcare extension of Forrest General Hospital, a 547 bed, level II Regional Trauma Center. Established in 1984, Pine Grove has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for 37 years.

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