Physical and mental health are interconnected; both require maintenance during these challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic has put the lives of millions in jeopardy. On the one hand is the real risk of contracting a potentially fatal virus, on the other is the havoc wrought on the minds of people who fear contraction.
Two demographics that are especially vulnerable during these troubling times is the addiction and mental health recovery community. The last few months have been hard on millions of people who heavily depend on support groups to manage life every day. People with alcohol, substance use, and co-occurring mental health disorders are no longer able to access their support networks the way they would historically.
Computers and smartphones are now a lifeline for countless Americans. Video and teleconferencing platforms are two safe methods of interacting with your peers for daily support and recovery guidance. It’s critical that you take advantage of the available communication methods that allow you to interact with your support network.
With a dramatic rise in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks, it’s clear that we are far from being out of the woods. We have no way of knowing how much longer we will all have to continue practicing social distancing and observing stay at home orders.
Some 2,593,265 Americans have contracted COVID-19, which is an 11 percent (262,780) increase from one week ago. More people have died in the United States from the coronavirus than the Americans who fought in World War I (116,516 deaths). As of June 30th, 2020, the virus has stolen the lives of 124,567 men, women, and children.
From Mental Health to PTSD Awareness Month
The new normal of living in relative isolation has led to a dramatic spike in loneliness across the United States. Mental health and addiction experts can agree that separation is one of the worst things for people in mental and behavioral health recovery. Navigating life is a significant challenge of late for people living with mental illness.
Fear and anxiety are stressful for individuals living with pre-existing mental health disorders. Loneliness can be a catalyst for experiencing mental illness symptoms, and isolation can trigger people in addiction recovery. There is no available data on the number of relapses since the beginning of the pandemic, but it stands to reason that there has been a spike.
While we all do our part to keep ourselves and families safe from the virus, it’s of the utmost importance that we support people living with mental health conditions. Both those in and out of the recovery community can help their fellow citizens during these isolating times. May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and June is PTSD Awareness Month. Both observances are essential, and we can all play a role in supporting those affected by mental illness.
The National Center for PTSD writes:
Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don’t get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. Help us spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available. Everyone with PTSD—whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events—needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.
The consequences of failing to reach out to members of our community who struggle with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder could be dire. As mentioned previously, isolation takes an enormous toll on people with mental health conditions. Without support, the suffering are apt to turn to self-destructive behaviors like drinking, drugging, or worse—suicide.
Physicians from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published a commentary in the Annals of Internal Medicine reminding us that we were already amid a loneliness and suicide epidemic before COVID-19. The doctors warn that social distancing and stress, and the recent rise in firearm sales could worsen matters in America.
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment for First Responders
Over the last few months, first-responders, nurses, and doctors have put themselves at significant risk in caring for those who contract the coronavirus. Men and women working on the frontline of this pandemic are heroes, and they are also vulnerable to post-traumatic stress and alcohol or substance use disorder.
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we specialize in treating first-responders who struggle with addiction and co-occurring PTSD. Please contact us today to learn more about our Heroes Program.