How Covid-19 is impacting the opioid Epidemic

Covid-19 has impacted us on a personal, societal and global scale.

A significant crisis has been experienced down to the mass transmission of coronavirus, a severe respiratory illness, causing worry and negative results for our livelihoods, intensifying mental health issues, prolonging symptoms and increasing death rates.

While for some, Covid-19 is manageable, it is a minor obstacle, mostly impacting ways of life rather than health and safety; more than 2 million people have lost their battle to this new, unfamiliar virus.

However, through one pandemic, another global crisis has continued to worsen, causing detriment and negative impacts on health, well-being and livelihoods, known as the opioid epidemic. Commonly, the opioid epidemic is associated with America, with the mass consumption of morphine and synthesised forms, causing high poverty levels, mental health deterioration and increased crime.

Yet, unknowingly to many, the opioid epidemic is experienced on a global scale right now, in fact, through the mist of Covid-19. The worry is that, as the focus has shifted onto the coronavirus pandemic, where further conditions and issues have been placed on the back burner, the misuse of opioids is becoming out of control, along with inconsistent and inaccessible support systems for users.

While we’re living through one crisis, impacting a proportion of the world, we must also shine the light on other crises, impacting further demographics. With this in mind, here’s how COVID-19 is impacting the opioid epidemic, potentially harming those around you unknowingly.


The opioid epidemic

Opioid drugs are those which are either prescribed or misused to manage or stop pain. They work with opioid receptors, found within cells, to suppress the strength of pain, by providing effects of anaesthesia. They ultimately cue the brain that pain levels have been reduced, which is then communicated through the opioid receptors throughout the body.

There are two main forms of opioid drugs, one which is made from the poppy plant, and another which is synthesised, both producing substances of morphine and fentanyl. For some, this type of drug will be prescribed by professionals to consume safely as a form of pain relief. Yet, down to accessibility, opioid drugs are also misused illegally, providing a cheaper alternative to further illicit drugs.

Through this accessibility, and the risks of misused opioids, addiction rates are high, making opioids an unknowingly easy option of long-term escape. Through this escape, addictions develop, and the ongoing necessity of their consumption develops, all coming together, causing the opioid epidemic.

In countries such as America, the opioid epidemic has caused significant damage, from tearing families apart to increased suicide and overdose rates to drug-related crime and mental health issues. However, like most drugs, opioids are used on a global scale, developing into a universal epidemic.


A crisis within a crisis, down to covid-19

Covid-19 feels like the ultimate crisis. For many of us, our lives have changed, significantly, for the worst, for the first time ever. Our livelihoods have come to a halt where many careers have been paused, where businesses have gone under, and where finances are one of our biggest worries. Health is also a big concern throughout COVID-19, from contracting the virus to spreading it to its impacts on long-term health and death risks.

Further negative results of the crisis focus on how COVID-19 has been controlled, where lockdowns have increased feelings of loneliness and isolation, heightening mental health issues. Our future lives have also been affected, where events and plans have been cancelled, where any sense of normality has been changed for mask-wearing and social distancing.

It’s understandable why the significant focus has been shifted towards COVID-19 and its impacts. Yet, we’re now experiencing a crisis within a crisis, where the opioid epidemic and drug abuse as a whole have aggravated down to the footprint of the pandemic.


How Covid-19 is impacting the opioid epidemic

Knowing exactly how Covid-19 is impacting the opioid epidemic is important, to understand the seriousness of neglect. Understandably, the focus has needed to shift to attempt to rebuild our economy, save lives, protect our health system here in the UK, and attempt to return to normality as soon as safely possible. Yet, down to heightened drug abuse, those suffering also deserve a helping hand through both crises.

Even greater misuses

Down to loneliness, down to isolation, down to boredom, down to worry, down to mental health pain, down to concern over the future, even greater misuse of opioid drugs has been found. More individuals are turning to drug abuse with the aim of escaping the reality caused by COVID-19. This easily showcases how addiction can develop, down to a single, uncontrolled trigger.

Through greater consumption levels, higher overdose rates have also been found since the beginning of COVID-19, supporting the difficulties of ongoing, unfamiliar pressure.

Dual diagnoses

In relation to the effects of Covid-19 restrictions and results, more individuals are suffering from mental health issues, either through heightened drug abuse or through the emotional pressures linked to the pandemic.

As opioids are used heavily to suppress pain, consumption levels have increased, which poses greater risks of dual diagnoses. This is very concerning as even greater intervention and rehabilitation will be required to tackle opioid addiction and further health issues.

Relapse risks

Usual support systems and services have come to a halt down to the transfer of health services and down to strict social distancing aims. Those who already suffer from drug abuse and are in need of opioid withdrawal services will have experienced delayed services throughout COVID-19, causing instant relapse risks. This is very worrying when considering future recovery rates, showcasing the need for ongoing support sources, virtually and in person.

The opioid epidemic is just as damaging as any further crisis when considering social and health issues. COVID-19 has showcased this, where greater attention must be placed on protecting those suffering from drug addiction.

Understandably, a new way of working will be necessary down to how COVID-19 is impacting the opioid epidemic and our lives. Yet here at Step One Recovery, we are here to offer assistance through this challenging time, committed to reducing the ongoing development of the opioid epidemic.

If you’re suffering, it’s time to speak out, placing your crisis as a priority while, of course, following and respecting guidelines linked to Covid-19. We can help you do so through professional rehabilitation support.