How Coronavirus can impact your addiction if you are still using
Coronavirus, which can develop into COVID-19 affects the respiratory system. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Coronaviruses as a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. COVID-19 is the disease that is caused by the virus. Familiar examples of this would be HIV – the virus, which causes the disease Aids, and rubeola – the virus, that causes measles.
Smoking anything may increase the risk of Coronavirus complications
The most vulnerable individuals to Coronavirus are those with compromised immune systems, especially people addicted to nicotine.
Cigarettes weaken the immune system and are the cause of other health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and respiratory difficulties. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that impairs breathing, so smoking may increase the risk of Coronavirus complications.
Inhaling hot smoke of any kind can be damaging to your lungs. Smoking marijuana and sharing joints, pipes and paraphernalia, can also potentially spread the virus from person to person.
“Substances such as tobacco, cannabis and crack cocaine reduce lung function and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections,” said Peter Selby, MD, a clinician-scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.
Using street drugs; including opiates NOT prescribed by your doctor as well as cocaine, meth, and heroin can also put a person at risk for Coronavirus. Studies have shown that substance abuse alters neuropsychological and pathophysiological responses, including immune functions as well.
RAAM clinics still open during Coronavirus pandemic
Stock up on your prescriptions! Make sure you are taking your medication as directed by your doctor. Not taking your prescribed medication can be dangerous for anyone experiencing withdrawal or complications from substance use.
If you are taking addiction medication such as suboxone or methadone, according to the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, The RAAM Clinics in Winnipeg are still operating as usual as of March 18, 2020.
RAAM clinic locations in Winnipeg
Crisis Response Centre
817 Bannatyne Avenue
Clinic Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m.
Phone: (204) 940-2177
River Point Centre
146 Magnus Avenue
Clinic Hours: Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Phone: (204) 944-6209 or 1 (855) 662-6605 (Call Monday – Friday 8:30-4:30)
For more information about RAAM clinics throughout Manitoba, click here.
Why people with substance abuse disorders are more likely to contract Coronavirus
- Substance abuse takes a negative toll on the user’s health and weakens the immune system
- Many people with substance use disorders also have chronic illnesses such as heart, kidney and liver disease, which are risk factors for developing COVID-19 infection
- Decreased access to health care
- Unstable housing
- Increased risk of arrest and incarceration
- If our healthcare system is operating at capacity, then patients with addictions who are already underserved and stigmatized will face additional barriers to treatment for COVID-19
Should Coronavirus stop people from going to rehab?
Substance abuse has a huge impact on health. It weakens the user’s immune system. Seeking treatment for addictions and mental health disorders is an excellent way to get through this crisis. You will be in a safe environment getting healthy both physically and emotionally. Being sequestered away from crowds and contaminants along with others who are working on their recovery will help reduce your risk of contracting the virus and spreading it.
Aurora Recovery Centre is a safe environment for patients who are going through withdrawal and require detox. We are taking every precaution to keep our members at the centre safe. During this time when most Canadians are in self-quarantine. Don’t sit at home alone bingeing; NOW is the time to take a break from everything and work on getting healthy!
What to do if your loved one is suffering from addiction during this crisis
If someone in your family is teetering on the edge of needing professional help for their addiction problem, the Coronavirus outbreak and the corresponding media blitz may be the final straw.
For people already struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, the warnings regarding Coronavirus are a license to isolate and double down on drug use. Isolation and disconnection from other people are the lifeblood of addiction.
Leaving a person with these health issues home alone, with their drug-of-choice and around the clock news coverage to keep them company, is a recipe for disaster.
If someone in your family is struggling and you have been considering getting them help, now may be the time to act. Don’t forget, trauma is the cause of addiction. People who are struggling were led to their addictions by trying to alleviate uncomfortable feelings, so keep an eye on your loved ones and consider encouraging them to take this time to get the help they need.