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The Other Side of Social Distancing

The Other Side of Social Distancing

Social distancing may be saving lives during this pandemic.   Scientists say it’s an important step we each should take to help defeat the virus.

But it may be taking lives, too.

In a sad, tragic spin-off of COVID-19, alcohol and substance abuse are again on the rise in America.

According to a recent research study, “An Epidemic in the Midst of a Pandemic:  Opioid Use Disorder and Covid-19,”  the pandemic is a “particularly grave risk to the millions of Americans with opioid use disorder, who – already vulnerable and marginalized – are heavily dependent on face-to-face health care delivery.”*

Churches are closed.  Community centers have shut their doors.  AA and other meetings that support those suffering from addiction, as well as their families, have replaced face-to-face gatherings with online meetings, using Zoom and other connectivity.

But how many families can access such meetings?  And how many of their loved ones with addiction will make the effort to tune in?

Even my own weekly Al-Anon meeting draws only half the former in-person attendance.

It makes me wonder about all the fathers and mothers and spouses and friends who love someone with an addiction. Where do they turn now to get help for their anguish?

As the article concludes, “The greatest strength of the treatment system has always been compassion and care for the most vulnerable—qualities needed now more than ever.”

Online meetings may not be the answer for everyone, but I am grateful for them and for my home group.

Help – and hope – are always available for those who seek them.

 

*Annals of Internal Medicine

April 2, 2020

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