Recovery Challenges Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and New Threats

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recoveryAs Mental Health Awareness Month comes to close, we hope that you will continue to prioritize your recovery needs during these challenging times. While the United States is far from being out of the woods regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are reopening, and only time will tell the impact of such actions.

Many in the addiction recovery community have been out of work for several months because of the coronavirus. One in four Americans has filed for unemployment in recent months, according to CNN. At least 100,000 men, women, and children have died in the U.S. due to health complications related to COVID-19. As many as 1,694,543 of our citizens have contracted the virus, and many experts fear that some states are underreporting the havoc wrought.

It remains essential to do everything you can do to avoid the potentially deadly virus that attacks the pulmonary and respiratory system. So, as you ease back into work – whether it be a “get well” job or your career, please take every precaution to safeguard your well-being.

The pandemic has taken an enormous toll on every aspect of our lives. Many people have turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress of it all. Moreover, a shortage of illicit drugs across the country has led to an uptick in admixing the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl into heroin and cocaine. The problem is compounded by a new synthetic opioid that is linked to overdoses in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.

A New Synthetic Opioid Emerges During the Pandemic

Practically every adult, addict or otherwise, is familiar with news reports about synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The narcotic is illegal to use unless administered or prescribed by a physician. The drug is often cut into heroin or stamped into pills to resemble popular prescription opiates like OxyContin (oxycodone).

Fentanyl is so powerful that naloxone – the overdose reversal drug – is often ineffective; multiple doses are usually required to prevent an overdose death involving fentanyl. Unfortunately, other synthetic opioids have yet to catch the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Such synthetics, such as isotonitazene – a derivative of etonitazene – is a potent analgesic opioid. Like fentanyl, a single dose of naloxone may not reverse the deadly effects of an overdose. In the midst of a pandemic, the isotonitazene has found its way into America, partly due to the fact that it’s not yet on the DEA’s list of controlled substances.

Isotonitazene is so new to the drug market that toxicity screens don’t test for the designer opioid, USA Today reports. Stress, anxiety, and isolation have led to a rise in both relapse and overdose across the country.

A large number of individuals in the addiction recovery community have returned to active use. Such people are not aware that there is a shortage of heroin, illicit prescription opioids, and cocaine from tightened border restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As such, those who relapse may not know that synthetic opioids are being relied on by drug dealers.

The new synthetic opioid is white in color, just like a lot of heroin and prescription narcotics, which means it can be pressed into pills to resemble oxycodone.

Keeping Your Recovery Intact or Beginning a Journey of Healing

At NorthStar Transitions, we understand how difficult life is these days. However, we implore you to rely on your support network more than ever in order to prevent relapse and potential overdose. Remember that you are not alone, and that help is just a phone call away if you find yourself feeling a desire to use drugs or alcohol.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs, alcohol, or co-occurring mental illness, please contact NST. Our dedicated staff is following the guidelines of public health organizations to protect the safety of our clients. Mental Health Month is the perfect opportunity to begin a journey of healing and get on the path toward lasting recovery.


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