How The Pandemic Has Affected Substance Abuse In India

How The Pandemic Has Affected Substance Abuse In India

As the nation gets more stringent about non-essential travel and bans on group gatherings to slow the spread of coronavirus, the pandemic may result in an unintended rise in drug and alcohol relapses and withdrawal symptoms in addiction. The pandemic has affected substance abuse in India. 

Ever since the lockdown, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes have been unavailable and a lot of people who have nicotine or alcohol addictions are now facing a lot of withdrawal symptoms. Nearly 140 such cases have been reported at the Institute of Mental Health in Erragadda in the past few days even as 94 such cases were reported on Monday alone, they said.

Why Is Substance Abuse Affected?

Mental health professionals have recently been speaking out about different ways to cope with isolation and anxiety regarding COVID-19, which can also act as triggers for those in recovery, especially when coupled with cancelled Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings.

"Due to non-availability of toddy or liquor in local markets in view of ongoing coronavirus lockdown for the past one week, tipplers are experiencing mild, moderate and severe withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness and restlessness.

According to the doctors, severe withdrawal symptoms include seizure, epilepsy, behaving in an anti-social manner, injuring themselves or harming others also. Doctors also warned that sometimes the withdrawal symptoms would be so severe that such patients would develop suicidal symptoms.

On Friday last, a 50-year-old daily wage worker here allegedly committed suicide by jumping off a building as he was upset at not being able to get liquor after the coronavirus lockdown and after struggling with withdrawal symptoms. According to the doctors, psychiatric consultations are available in district hospitals also in case required.

The number of such cases has been incredibly high and is growing. Since alcohol, cigarettes and any other such drugs are not available the only other step to take is to be able to keep in control.


How Do I Deal With Withdrawal Symptoms?

Here are some things you can do during quarantine that can help you out a little:

1. Exercise regularly

Healthy amounts of exercise can help the brain to release endorphins and thus positively restore chemical balance. Exercise can also reduce tension and stress, and help a person to sleep better while enhancing self-esteem. Studies published by the journal Frontiers in Psychology show that exercise can help to minimize relapse and decrease compulsive drug use and cravings, therefore aiding in recovery. Exercise can improve physical health, which can, in turn, enhance mental health and stability during withdrawal.

2. Eat balanced and nutritious meals

Diet can play a big role in healing both the mind and body. Eating meals that are rich in proteins and essential vitamins and nutrients are essential for restoring healthy brain and body functioning. Drugs and alcohol can deplete the body of what it needs to run efficiently, and it is vital to replace these nutrients during withdrawal to speed up healing. Staying away from caffeine, refined sugars, processed foods, oils, and saturated fats can also help.

3. Stay hydrated

Dehydration is common during withdrawal. It is important to drink enough water to allow the body to heal properly. Many times, cravings may be mistaken for thirst or hunger. Keeping the body properly hydrated and nourished can aid in reducing these instances.

4. Stretch often, and consider yoga and/or mindfulness meditation

Stretching and yoga poses can stimulate blood flow and circulation, and relieve tension and muscle pain. Mindfulness meditation and yoga use breathing techniques to help people become more aware and in tune with their bodies. By understanding and responding to physical cues, a person can better understand the emotional response involved.

5. Appreciate small steps

Make sure that you are acknowledging every step you make to help yourself battle with your addiction and reassure yourself that you can do it and survive the period.

Facing depression and anxiety during withdrawal may be one of the most difficult things you can do in life. It is challenging for almost everyone, both physically and emotionally. We know that it is difficult to get by, especially in a situation like this - but we hope you stay safe and take care of yourself in the best way possible.

WRITTEN BY  - Nandita Potnis Nandita Potnis nanditapotnis29@gmail.com

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