Addictions during quarantine are a little talked about problem. However, confinement puts addicts and those with addictive tendencies at risk.
The confinement and isolation imposed by world governments to contain the advance of the coronavirus pandemic have created new problematic situations. Among them, the situation of addictions during the quarantine.
This is part of the broad field of mental health, where we can also mention domestic violence and anxiety, depression and stress disorders. The same health agencies that recommend confinement have established mechanisms to deal with these problems.
In psychology and psychiatry, it is known that extreme situations and stressful episodes can increase the consumption of psychoactive substances, as well as trigger addictive behaviors, such as excessive play. Well, quarantined addictions fall into this category.
Defense mechanisms are difficult to implement with social isolation. We cannot recommend patients to frequently loved ones, to turn to trusted friends, or to do outdoor sports. By not being able to leave, the addictive risk increases.
The onset of addictions during the quarantine
One situation that may occur is that an addictive process is initiated during the quarantine. Some people may be driven to addictive behavior because of the stress of confinement.
Alcohol consumption has grown markedly during the pandemic. Countries like the United States have recorded that sales of alcoholic beverages rose more than 50% during this time. Some countries had to implement dry laws prohibiting the sale of liquor, a measure that has already been used in previous similar situations.
There is also fear that the game will fire, especially due to the availability of online betting sites. By staying locked up and connected longer, the flow to these websites increases.
With an addiction to gambling, the home economy is also affected and, in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are already giving rise to economic problems that may be exacerbated by these behaviors.
The addictions during the quarantine also imply the appearance of the withdrawal syndrome in those people who have been suffering from an addiction. Confinement limits their supply and, in cases of recovery, the treatment they are carrying out.
For patients who were in the process of de-addiction, the social network is essential. Mechanisms should be established for virtual contact with family and friends who are committed to rehabilitation in advance.
Mental health professionals, in general, have set up phone numbers and virtual consultations to support recovering addicts. Faced with withdrawal symptoms, an immediate teleconsultation should be carried out to stop the process that can end in a return to addiction.
Young addicts are a vulnerable group with their own characteristics. Many live alone and are isolated, with little money available. The risk of abstinence in this context can lead to criminal conduct in a double sense: the crime itself and the violation of a compulsory quarantine.
General recommendations for dealing with quarantined addictions
Each particular case of addiction needs a special approach. It is very difficult to propose general lines of action for problems as diverse as smoking and gambling, for example.
However, from experience in the areas of mental health, we know that there are protective environments that we can manufacture and stimulate to help addicts, whether or not they are undergoing rehabilitation. Some of these measures are:
- Sustaining a support network: family, friends, and neighbors function as support fabric for addicts. They are the connection with the other human being that is based on empathy.
- Finding How to Talk: Technology is a useful ally for confinement. Follow-ups can be done with remote psychology consultations, as well as video conferences with the support network for difficult times. The addict must find the space to speak up and express his fears.
- Ensuring truthful information: reliable information about the pandemic and about everything related to his addiction must reach the addict. Overexposure to information is counterproductive and can unleash added stress.
Quarantined addictions are a social problem
Preventing and addressing addictions during quarantine is a responsibility of governments, but also of society as a whole body. It is not just an addict struggling with their quarantine issue, it is a larger network committed to sustaining and supporting each other through difficult times.
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