But for some, more time has brought with it high anxiety with limited outlets for release. For those struggling with mental health and substance-use issues, the COVID-19 crisis is especially difficult. People are also faced with unexpected life events and impacts as well as significant changes to social life and daily activities, many of which may be triggers for people to start using opioids again, or to use in unsafe situations.
The opioid crisis in B.C. has not slowed down for the COVID-19 crisis. Figures for the rate of overdose in B.C. released this week show a worrying jump from February to March this year.
Although more work will have to be done to determine the reasons behind this increase, the dramatic changes to society as the result of COVID-19 may play a role.
So how can someone stay focussed in their recovery and avoid relapse to opioid or other types of substance use?
"To remain in recovery and avoid spiralling into feelings of fear and anxiety, I encourage people to think about what usually helps them when they are in a difficult and stressful period in their life and try and apply it here as much as possible," says Dr. Vijay Seethapathy, Medical Director, Complex Mental Health and Substance Use Services. "This can be as simple as enjoying food you enjoy or taking time to talk to your friends and family."
- Limit how often you check the news and only get it from reliable sources.
- Focus on things you are grateful for, things such as family, grocery store clerks, life itself.
- Minimize isolation by staying in touch with friends and family via zoom, face time, phone calls and texts.
If you are using substances at this time, remember that physical distancing does not mean total social isolation. Local Overdose Prevention and Supervised Consumption services (SCS) are open, safe and here to help during COVID-19.
Where to get more help
If you or a loved one needs more mental health support at this difficult time, there are many programs and resources that are available to you: