The pros and cons of isolation for substance and alcohol addicts


As you no longer need to be told, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic we now all face a temporary lockdown. A time of lockdown has its own set of complications for drug addicts and alcohol abusers – and their loved ones and friends. If the addict is locked down with a family unit, they may be a liability as they may stop at nothing to get out to still meet with dealers.

When they are out, even if they say they are going to get medication to assist with recovery, they may be seeking drugs. People in active addiction come into contact with so many different people too. Drug packages are often kept in the dealers or runners mouths just to mention one alarming fact!

The fact of the matter is if they are allowed out at all, the addict could put an entire family at risk, but total isolation may not be a good idea either…

Home alone is not good

Being at home, particularly alone, is not a good thing for addicts either. One of the most important tools to assist with the recovery is open and frank group discussions with fellow addicts, and this does not have the same effect when held as an online meeting. It may create even more of a sense of isolation.

This is also the opinion of Dr Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in the USA, who said in a radio show interview “We consider addiction a disease of isolation in the first place. So now we’re isolating all these people and expecting them to, you know, pick up the phone, get online, that sort of thing. Well, it may not work out as well.”

Stress and anxiety

Normal drug addiction symptoms of restlessness and mood swings can be elevated by additional stress and anxiety. We know that there is a lot of work underway to help people in recovery adjust quickly to appointments and counselling via online support like virtual meetings, social networks and apps – but their efficacy is limited.

Seppala went on to say “There’s also the psychology of fear associated with this virus that can really drive people to an elevated level of anxiety. Anxiety certainly can result in relapse!”

An additional risk for addict and family

There is a genuine danger for addicts too if infected by COVID-19. This is due to generally very high rates of nicotine addiction and smoking – i.e. high rates of chronic lung disease – and generally weak immune systems. They have a higher rate of infections such as hepatitis C and HIV, making them high-risk candidates for COVID-19.

This can only add to tensions amongst family members, and with alcohol still freely available, alcohol abusers and drug addicts going into withdrawal could be impossible to live with.

That is a great danger. If you are living with an addict or even a recovering addict, possibly one who is in an out-patient program, attending group counselling, or getting medication to assist with addiction, your best option really is their admittance to a renowned substance and alcohol abuse and rehabilitation centre.

Controlled isolation – the best solution

At Transformation Life Centre (TLC), based in Sandton, Johannesburg, has experienced faith-based substance abuse and alcohol addiction councillors and believe that the controlled isolation of a rehabilitation centre is the best solution for both the addict and their family or friends at a time like this.

The highest principles of hygiene are practised at all times, regardless of the current situation, as we know that infection is always one of the side effects of substance abuse. Contact us today regarding any issues you may have in this area and sooner rather than later, let us admit your substance abuse sufferer into our safe environment.

With love and expert counselling, by the time COVID-19 has become a thing of the past, your loved one could have fully transformed and like us all, be facing a very much brighter future!

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