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Stress of COVID-19 can lead to increased alcohol and substance use

Susan Madore is a regional addictions prevention consultant with Western Health in Corner Brook.CR
Susan Madore is a regional addictions prevention consultant with Western Health in Corner Brook. - Contributed


CORNER BROOK, N.L. — There’s no doubt COVID-19 has brought a lot of stress into the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

“And any time that people experience stress there’s always a risk that people will use substances more often. Or they may potentially use it as a coping mechanism,” said Susan Madore.

They might seek comfort or try to cope with that stress by using, having a glass of wine or having a beer, said Madore, regional addictions prevention consultant with Western Health.

She said that applies to anyone.

‘’We do have to respect the guidelines of physical distancing to keep our communities safe,” said Madore. “With that, people feel isolated. You’re not seeing friends and family and your support networks face-to-face like you’re probably normally seeing.”

Being able to connect from a distance can be challenging for a lot of people.

She said when people feel there might be a lack of access to substances they might try to stockpile them.

“Any time that happens there is a risk that people may use more often, or drink more than what they typically would, just because they then have that in their home.”

However, she said, people have to be mindful of how much and how often they do use or drink, so they protect themselves from the health impacts of doing so or the potential to develop a substance-use disorder.

“And any time that people experience stress there’s always a risk that people will use substances more often. Or they may potentially use it as a coping mechanism.”

Madore suggests people who have substance disorders stay as socially connected, from a distance, as they can. Use technology to keep in touch by phone, text, video chat or social media.

“Just to have that circle of support around you.”

If people do use, they should practice harm reduction and safer ways to use. That includes washing their hands, keeping their space clean, minimize sharing of equipment or substances, access a safe supply of clean equipment and substances.

But Madore said people need to avoid using more than they typically would.

“You want to avoid any type of binge use.”

If using a substance that is an opioid or may come in contact with an opioid, then people should carry a Naloxone kit as they could be at higher risk of opioid overdose. Kits can be accessed from local mental health and addictions offices for free.

As for support services, Madore said there are many places that people can turn.


Narcotics Anonymous steps up to keep members connected through online meetings


One is Doorways, a province-wide program, offers a one-time counselling session that can provide individuals with what counselling options and community supports are available to them.

There are also services online for youth and adults at www.bridgethegapp.ca that has programs in mindfulness, dealing with anxiety and access to counselling via video.

Whether it’s someone who is struggling, or a friend or family member of someone who is struggling, Madore encourages them to reach out.

“That’s what we’re here for.”

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

Online resources:

http://westernhealth.nl.ca/home/health-topics-main/addiction-services/

http://www.westernhealth.nl.ca/doorways/

www.bridgethegapp.ca

CheckItOutNL.ca

Opioid Dependence Treatment Hub

COVID-19 Safer Drug Use Harm Reduction Tips 

www.aastjohns.com

http://uturnaddictions.org

www.camh.ca/covid19

Telephone resources

CHANNAL Warm Line - 1-855-753-2560

Mental Health & Addictions Systems Navigator - 1-877-999-7589

Health Line – 811

Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line - 1-888-737-4668

Crisis Text Line - Text ‘Talk’ to 686868

Kids Help Phone - 1-800-668-6868

Alcoholic Anonymous help line - 1-888-579-5215

Safe Works Access Program (SWAP) - 709) 757-7927 or (709) 634-7927

U-Turn Drop-In Centre - 709) 595-3223 / Cell: (709) 597-3236

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