Immunocompromised people have a weakened immune system in comparison to the rest of the population. Their bodies may experience a compromised defense system for an array of reasons: cancer, cancer treatment and therapies, genetic diseases, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, poor nutrition, and more. Unfortunately, a struggle with substance abuse can further compromise the health of the immunocompromised.
Substance Use and the Immune System
Addiction paired with a weak immune system makes many people incredibly susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. However, every individual deserves proper care despite the chaos the pandemic creates. In this complex situation, understanding the relationship between recreational drug or alcohol abuse and an immunocompromised state is the first step in obtaining proper treatment.
Most commonly abused drugs act as toxins in the body. Toxins naturally decrease the body’s defenses. Addictive substances like methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and certain prescription medications may set off an autoimmune reaction or autoimmune disease where one did not exist prior. Friends, family, and the person struggling with the substance abuse must first identify if the substance itself causes the immunocompromised state or if another infirmity must additionally be addressed. This distinction helps medical professionals and the individual identify the proper, prudent steps for care.
Further, those who struggle with specific substances face more danger than others in light of COVID-19. As commonly known, the virus appears to attack the pulmonary system. Therefore, addiction to opioids and methamphetamine places individuals in more pressing danger due to how these substances negatively impact the lungs.
How the Pandemic Affects the Recovery Process
The second step in obtaining proper treatment is understanding how the pandemic affects someone seeking care and recovery from substance abuse. Currently, the world faces national quarantines, a slowed economy, and stringent social distancing norms. The immunocompromised struggling with addiction may find that all the odds, both physical and mental, stack against them. Between decreased bodily defenses and a struggle with substance abuse, many folks often face heightened sensations of the following:
- Collapse of familial, romantic and platonic relationships
These physical and mental obstacles challenge recovering individuals more so than under normal conditions. Such folks may find requesting and receiving help more difficult in light of COVID-19. They deserve patience and understanding.
How You Can Offer Support
As lonely as the pandemic can make our environment, immunocompromised individuals seeking to recover from substance abuse are not alone. Their predicament is not hopeless. The following are several suggestions for offering support and empathy to someone in your life who is immunocompromised and also struggling with substance use:
- Respect the person’s boundaries regarding social distancing
- Use face masks when near the individual
- Deliver groceries, medications, and other necessary items to the vulnerable individual
- When possible, use video calls rather than meeting in person
- Acknowledge that the immunocompromised person faces real danger and that this stress and fear will likely make their recovery from addiction more challenging
This current global situation completely justifies the need of the immunocompromised to ask these things of their family and friends. Familiars should actively work to find empathy and positivity regarding these requests.
We Can Help
Great Oaks Recovery Center understands the need to communicate and practice these guidelines. With over fifty acres of expansive landscape, Great Oaks offers every opportunity to recover while practicing all the appropriate safety measures within the residential treatment program. The center acknowledges the gravity of the pandemic for the immunocompromised, and takes every precaution to ensure that COVID-19 infection is not at the forefront of vulnerable clients’ minds. The facility adheres to the following precautionary steps:
- Placement of numerous hand washing and sanitizing stations within the building
- On-site screening of patients upon admission
- Maintaining a close relationship with health care professionals and emergency management personnel to ensure the safety of all and to stay up-to-date with new protocols
- A policy of open communication with family members about the health status of their loved one in respect to COVID-19
These measures help set the minds of all immunocompromised seeking help at peace while in recovery. A positive mental state is crucial for those in recovery, and Great Oaks practices keeping a safe, sanitary, and understanding environment for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you begin your journey to sobriety and well-being.