Substance Use Addiction and the Impact of COVID-19
According to a recent study, people with substance use disorders may be more likely to become infected and die of COVID-19 because drug use weakens the immune system, inhibiting a person’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections.
Both opioids and COVID-19 also affect breathing, decreasing the ability to properly take in oxygen. This makes the combination of opioids and COVID-19 infection particularly lethal. Beyond that, chronic use of tobacco, cocaine, and opioids are associated with increased risk for heart attacks and heart failure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that smoking cigarettes can cause heart and lung disease.
The pandemic has led to increased risk factors for substance addiction, including isolation, financial hardship, and mental health problems. The need for treatment services has grown significantly, while mental health and addiction treatment centers struggle to stay open. Financial burdens caused by safety regulations, quarantine rules, limited capacity, and fewer physician referrals are only some of the reasons recovery centers have had difficulty staying afloat.
Women in black and brown communities experiencing homelessness and in recovery are being most impacted. Women in recovery benefit from having a strong support network. Now, because of the pandemic, many women have lost a large part of their support network because 12-Step meetings are taking place virtually.
“These sessions are hard to replicate on Zoom, and for women with no access to the internet or a cell phone, Zoom meetings are not an option. Additionally, the move to telemedicine and virtual care has led to an increase in medical and mental health care access disparities among the most vulnerable in our communities”, said Yaisa Hagood, Executive Director.
Thank you for your concern and compassion for women facing homelessness and in recovery from substance use addiction. Your support is more important than ever.
Our staff will continue to shed light on these issues as they pertain to the women we serve.