Before the COVID-19 crisis forced many of us to slow down, our lives were extremely busy. There was always another meeting to attend, or an activity to drive the kids to, or lawn work that needed ongoing attention. We talked a lot about how busy we were—complained about it, really. And yet, we didn’t seem to do much about it. In fact, some of us (whether we would admit it to ourselves or not) actually felt compelled to stay busy.
One of the many downsides of constant busyness is that it can be easy to miss important things. And we don’t mean missing things because you are double (or triple) booked. We mean missing important things about the people in our lives—even the people we live with and love best.
But now you may find yourself in close contact with your family pretty much all of the time, especially if you are under quarantine or “stay at home” orders because of COVID-19. Sure, you may split up into separate rooms for your online meetings, online classes, online exercise routines, and the like. Still and all, there is a whole lot of togetherness going on right now.
And that means you may start to notice things you have never noticed before. For example, you may find yourself wondering if your spouse, your child, your roommate, or other quarantine buddy has a substance use disorder – a problem with drugs or alcohol. But maybe you are unsure what sorts of signs you should be looking for.
We’re here to help.
Spotting the Signs of a Substance Use Disorder in Quarantine
There are a number of common signs that may indicate that someone is struggling with a substance use disorder.
They may, for example, suddenly seem to have less interest in the way they dress or in matters of personal hygiene. They may lose or gain weight, seem significantly less energetic, or appear to have lost most of their motivation. Maybe they are abruptly secretive or exhibit some significant personality or behavior change. They might be chomping at the bit to get out of quarantine or making excuses to get out of the house. Perhaps they start asking for money or making withdrawals from accounts without giving a clear reason for why they need the funds.
Any combination of some or all of these things might indicate a substance use disorder and/or a mental health disorder. If you suspect someone in your home is struggling, it may be time to have an honest (but nonjudgmental) conversation with them.
We do want to note here, however, that the current public health emergency and the resulting isolation and disruption of routine could lead to some of the signs we list above. As a result, it is especially important that you approach the possibility of drug or alcohol use gently and kindly. You may be relieved to discover that a substance use disorder is not an issue for your loved one—but you may still need to help them address any mental health challenges—depression, anxiety, and the like—that they may be experiencing and that may be exacerbated by social distancing and other COVID-19 related realities.
Please Note: Help Is Available Right Now
You may be thinking to yourself that it is all well and good to know the signs of a substance use disorder, but that there is no way to address the problem under the current circumstances.
Happily, that isn’t true. Residential treatment centers, like Bel Aire Recovery Center, are considered essential businesses—and for good reason. People still need to be able to seek treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders so that they may begin their recovery journey. The public health emergency and subsequent quarantine doesn’t change that fact.
Still, you might be worried that it simply isn’t safe to enter residential treatment at the moment. We want to assure you that Bel Aire Recovery Center is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and following all appropriate medical and hygiene protocols to ensure that our clients and our staff are protected. We’re cleaning and sanitizing public areas and ensuring that staff and clients alike wash their hands frequently.
And we are screening clients when they are admitted to Bel Aire Recovery Center as well as keeping in touch with the families of clients so that we are aware of any indications of illness to which a client may have been exposed. For the time being, family visitation has been suspended though we continue to encourage clients to stay in contact with loved ones in other ways so that they experience the love and support that can be so critical to rehab and recovery.
We Are Never Too Busy to Help
Has this drastic change in our day to day lives led to a discovery you were too busy to spot before? Don’t waste time feeling guilty about missing the signs of a loved one’s substance use disorder in the past; be happy that you’ve spotted those signs now. And then reach out to us so that we can help your loved one put substance use behind them and go on to build a life of lasting sobriety. At Bel Aire Recovery Center, we have a plan to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection and to maximize the likelihood that your loved one can get sober and stay sober.