Why you shouldn’t avoid addiction rehab during the lockdown
The start of November 2020 marked the event we had all been hoping to avoid; another national lockdown to manage the spread of COVID-19. As everyone has taken to their sofas, and we are all faced with uncertainty, finding ways to maintain good mental health is essential. A glass of wine may be tempting in the short term, but using alcohol to cope could lead to problems further down the line.
For those already struggling, risk of relapse is high and accessing addiction treatment might feel harder than ever. It is vital we support each other and have access to the right information, but how can we all keep problem behaviours in check and what should you do if you need to seek extra support during the lockdown?
The impact of a UK lockdown on addiction
The first lockdown led to a soar in alcohol sales as people struggled with social isolation alongside working from home. Without the usual entertainment, such as concerts and sports matches to look forward to, and with ways to burn off steam restricted, lots of people found the best way to relax involved a glass of alcohol and a zoom quiz.
For those already fighting mental illness or trying to balance problem behaviours, a significant reduction in social support has made things much more challenging. A recent survey concluded that lockdowns pose a significant risk for relapse in problem drinkers and is likely to increase the consumption for those who are not dependant as well. Some have argued that the closure of pubs and bars will reduce the populations drinking, as people are no longer swayed by social pressure. However, as the nation’s mental health declines, mounting evidence suggests this assumption may be naive. Problem drinking is made worse by staying at home, poor mental health is a risk factor for problem behaviours, and alcohol addiction has become an issue of public health. However, help is still fully available throughout the UK during the pandemic, and treatment is ready for anyone that will benefit from it.
The importance of connection
Healthy relationships are essential for maintaining good mental health, which subsequently reduces the risk of problem behaviours spiralling out of control. Without social connection, a person will suffer psychologically, which may lead them to addictive behaviours. Prolonged isolation is classically used as a form of punishment, which is likely to trigger ways of coping, such as increased drinking if alcohol is available. Whether it be picking up the phone to call family or having a virtual catch-up with workmates, the lockdown provides the perfect opportunity to connect with others via solidarity.
Despite best efforts, however, for some people, the stress of lockdown may lead problem behaviours to become addiction. Self-monitoring can only go so far, and for many, it may be time to get help. During the coronavirus lockdown, self-isolation is compulsory under various circumstances to protect the health of the nation; however, it is important to make sure that this does not impact existing conditions. For those struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, this could serve as the perfect time to enter into a rehab programme. A selection of different therapies and a private space to bond with others that understand the feelings that come with addiction will provide a safe space to avoid the segregation of lockdown and improve physical and mental wellbeing. Some may find that relationships strengthen or heal in line with increased time to talk and less distractions.
During this time, it’s more important than ever that we support each other and reach out to any friends who may be struggling. Loneliness is a significant risk factor for poor physical health as well as increasing the likelihood of problem drinking, especially in older adults. Many people have difficult relationships with family or had limited social movement before the lockdown. For those of them who may be feeling the pressure, many general interest groups, classes, or support networks have now moved online to improve ease of access despite social restrictions. There is also evidence to support the impact of the human-animal bond, such as looking after a pet, to improve mental health and reduce the risk of problem behaviours during lockdown. In the absence of the usual support, providing care for each other will make all the difference.
The benefits of addiction rehab
There is a satisfaction which comes with seeking support; many people have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and social connection within rehab has been key in helping them achieve recovery. Some NHS addiction treatment services may be reduced in the short term, but most private centres will have helplines, online groups, and therapy to help you get the support you need. Addiction rehab can help you to manage withdrawal symptoms and provide an opportunity to talk about difficulties which may have contributed to problem behaviours in the first place. No one should have to manage addiction in isolation, and help is still here if you need it.
Is it safe to seek addiction treatment during lockdown?
If you are looking for support but are worried about lockdown restrictions, you can call our admissions team for advice or read through our COVID-19 safety measures for reassurance. Most addiction treatment centres in the UK are still providing services with the addition of safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading into their clinics. Measures may include the use of online forums and support, smaller groups to reduce social contact and encouraged social distancing. Here at UKAT, we are doing everything we can to continue our services whilst making sure our clients stay safe. Our addiction treatment centres remain open, and we offer Coronavirus testing on admission. If you are looking for residential treatment, you can rest assured that safety is a top priority and will be carefully managed, so you can focus on your recovery.
The global pandemic is risky in more ways than one, so keeping on top of our tipples is essential to prevent problems for the future. Looking after each other, reaching out to those in need and maintaining social connection are fundamental to staying human. If you or someone you know is struggling, help is still here, and we will all get through this together.
A Few Words From…
Nuno Albuquerque, Treatment Lead
The current Coronavirus crisis is without a doubt a frightening time for everyone, especially for those suffering with addiction who are in need of critical care and immediate treatment. This is why we are going to every length possible in order to remain open and to provide the same standard of care, trust, love and support deserved to everyone with addiction. Addiction won’t pause during the Coronavirus crisis, and neither will we.