Addicts are a higher risk group than they may realise.
Our intention is not to cause unnecessary panic. Panic is a pandemic in and of itself. But with COVID-19 currently global, it is important to take precautions, especially if you’re in a higher risk group.
One group that may be especially high are those who… get high. Certain drugs are known to have certain effects on the body, which when taken into account with how COVID-19 works (as we understand it right now), means that being in active addiction could place you or a loved one in the upper tiers of trouble.
The basics of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a coronavirus. So-called because of the “corona” (Latin for ‘crown’) like shape that appears around the virus when peered through an electron microscope.
Coronaviruses have been around humans and other mammals for a long time. They were first discovered in the late 1960s.
In different animals, they have different symptoms. But in humans, they’re responsible for some cases of the common cold and influenza. That’s because, in us, they’re respiratory infectors.
Most coronaviruses which infect people are relatively harmless.
But what makes COVID-19 a concern is that it’s a novel coronavirus. Novel as in, our immune systems have seen nothing like this before. That means we have no natural immunity to it.
SARS, which swept the globe in 2002, was a novel coronavirus, too.
These epidemics and (like in this case) pandemics regularly occur every couple of years. In COVID-19’s case, the original host was thought to have been the horseshoe bat, with pangolins as an intermediary.
It has since been disproven (at least regarding the pangolins). The current source of the viral infection in humans is unknown as of the time this article was written. But it was probably zoonotic. That is, it came from a different species.
Viral jumps between species are very uncommon, but when they occur they’re often severe simply because it’s a new kind of virus we have to deal with, no matter if it’s part of a familiar family.
COVID-19 tends towards a fatality rate of between 1% to 8% depending on where you are and how good that country’s health service is. It also depends if the health system is holding ground or being overwhelmed.
When patients are truly in danger, they struggle to breathe and go into respiratory failure. Sadly, a major cause of death is due to the limited availability of respirators.
The problem for addicts .
There are a couple of major high-risk groups. Among them are those with weakened respiratory systems, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues. And, of course, those who are immune-compromised.
Addicts and alcoholics tend to have problems in these areas. Alcohol overuse is linked to a weakened immune system. The same applies to imbibing on a variety of illicit drugs.
Such as with opioids (this would include legal medication, like codeine). Abusing these substances tends to cause breathing difficulties that ultimately damage the lungs. Opioids cause the addict to slow down their breathing. An overdose, for instance, often results in the addict being unable to breath (called “forgetting to breath” among addicts).
Overtime, opioid abuse can lead to chronic lung illness.
As COVID-19 attacks the lungs — and in autopsies of those who’ve passed away from the disease, there are lesions that had formed on them — heroin / opioid addicts are high-risk.
What this translates to is even for addicts who are in recovery from opioid-abuse, extra care needs to be taken to avoid the virus.
It’s already strongly suspected that smoking tobacco is a major contributor to fatalities. It’s hinted in the ratio of men to women in China who’ve died from corona. The former is significantly higher than the latter. And 52% of Chinese men smoke as opposed to a much, much smaller percentage of Chinese women.
This means marijuana is also a concern because it carries with it significant amounts of tar. Not many marijuana addicts will admit that marijuana smoke might be as dangerous as tobacco, and will argue smaller quantities of the substance are smoked in any case.
But there is significantly more smoke in a marijuana joint than in a cigarette.
In addition, many amphetamine-like drugs can cause blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. Like cat and meth.
Even cocaine and crack, though they’re not related to the amphetamine family, put a severe strain on the heart.
These are amongst the most used substances that people come into our rehab for, outside of alcohol. And because both meth and crack are smoked, they also cause serious lung issues, too.
The fact is, the cardiovascular and respiratory systems may not be able to handle a COVID-19 infection in an addict currently experiencing active addiction.
How to best protect yourself.
Realisation is key. That you’re in a high-risk group and should be especially careful about not touching your face, especially if you haven’t recently washed your hands. Wash your hands!
Social distancing is important. Some addicts do this already, which in normal circumstances is unhealthy behaviour. But it appears in fashion now because it acts as a fire-breaker against a pathogen pandemic.
Others, though, enjoy going out — like the bar-hopping alcoholic or the cocaine addict looking for a good time.
That’s if the club scene doesn’t die down during this episode. Especially with the limitation of gatherings hosting more than 100 people.
You could also stop. It would be helpful during the period we’re going through — and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
This is just the reality of the situation.
However, if you plan on quitting, your best bet is in a rehab centre like ours.
Don’t let the drug lifestyle combined with COVID-19 put you at unnecessary risk. Do what needs doing to keep yourself safe during this phase of great uncertainty. Take care out there, if you insist on continuing.
If not, we offer the perfect refuge, with protocols in place to best handle possible infections. And a new way of life, too, one free from the misery of addiction.
For more information on dealing with alcohol or substance abuse and getting yourself into rehab to start a new life, call Houghton House now:
office hours: 011 787 9142
24/7 emergency help line: 079 770 7532