Substance abuse / Addiction

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Possible challenges they face

  • Distress from the pandemic may lead to a higher chance of substance or alcohol abuse, as people are more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs to alleviate feelings of distress. The pandemic has also disrupted medical and mental health care services, which could jeopardise the recovery progress of individuals who are recovering from substance abuse or addiction issues.
  • If you have a pre-existing problem with substance misuse, having to endure a challenging or stressful situation, such as COVID-19, can trigger a relapse and cause strong urges to drink or misuse drugs again.

Managing symptoms

  • Join an online self-help programme. There are self-help materials available for people suffering from an addiction.
  • Pay attention to any change in your use of alcohol and/or drug use
  • Ensure you know what the early warning signs are of when substance misuse is starting to become a problem:
    • If you’re drinking alcohol or using drugs more than usual,
    • Someone has told you they’re concerned about your drinking or drug use,
    • You feel you need alcohol or other drugs to get through the pandemic,
    • You can’t remember things you’ve said or done while drinking or using drugs,
    • You behave in harmful ways to yourself or others while you’re drinking or using drugs,
    • You’ve tried to cut back or stop but find you can’t,
    • You cover up or lie about your drinking or drug use,
    • When you drink or use drugs, you feel like you can’t stop.
  • Don’t mix alcohol and other drugs/substances because it can cause harmful interactions.
  • If you have been prescribed medication, only use as prescribed/directed. Don’t change the dose on your own, if you feel your medication isn’t working (talk to your doctor or healthcare provider).

How can friends and family help

  • Talk with friends and family about how they can support you to prevent a relapse.
  • Share with them your ‘early warning signs’, so they know what these are/and will know what to help you look out for.
  • Reach out to places of support that have helped you before like a counsellor, your workplace EAP or your doctor. Enlisting the help of family and friends you trust could also make reaching out for support again easier.
  • Ask friends and family you trust to attend appointments with you/or go with you.


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