If you, or someone you know, is facing living with drug or alcohol issues, you’ll appreciate just how challenging the pandemic has been. Not only because it can bring days and weeks of social isolation, but cuts in available support can easily tip someone over the edge.

The pandemic lockdown has changed all our lives beyond belief. Families are sometimes isolated together for weeks on end. Many people in South Wales have lost their jobs or face an uncertain future. This leads to financial strain, which in turn leads to fear, stress and yet more isolation. Unbelievably, but it comes as no surprise, 1 in 3 of us said our mental health is more fragile than it was pre-pandemic.

Just before Christmas we were contacted by Rehab 4 Addiction, an organisation set up 8 years ago as an advisory and referral service for people who suffer from alcohol, drug and behavioural addiction.

They work closely with rehabilitation centres and outpatient clinics throughout the UK and the admissions team match a patients’ addiction with an appropriately placed rehabilitation centre.

Who they work with

We are able to offer rehabilitation centres patient referrals, and we always prioritise the needs of the specific patient when doing so. We maintain a substantial network of rehabilitation centres throughout the United Kingdom. We work with private rehabilitation centres, the NHS and even a number of ‘luxury rehabilitation’ centres abroad.

Serving patients throughout the United Kingdom

They can offer immediate access to quality rehabilitation centres in literally any corner of the United Kingdom. Finding the right rehabilitation centre is not as simple as you might think. If you search the internet for ‘rehabilitation centre’ the number of options is vast and often confusing.

If you are a rehabilitation centre who offers detoxification and therapy to patients, and you seek a guaranteed source of new patients then fill out their enquiry form, to discuss the possibility of working together.

If you’d like to learn more about this organisation, and the services they offer, just go here. REHAB

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Tony Rao has put together a six-point action plan for those who are struggling right now.

Tony is an NHS consultant who advises people with drug and alcohol addiction problems.

“It’s easy to see how lockdown has acted as a trigger for relapse. I’ve noticed more of my patients increase their use of drink and drugs as a way of coping with boredom, stress, loneliness, anxiety and changes to their sleep pattern.

Over half the people referred to my team in recent weeks have been for alcohol and drug problems, but mainly alcohol problems, linked to the lockdown, their problems have been worsened because they are socially cut off.”

Dr Tony Rao

1. Try cutting down on alcohol

While you might want to cut down or stop drinking altogether, its important to be aware that the absence of face-to-face support in lockdown might make this a more challenging task than usual. If you’re keen to see this through, I advise that you work out how much you drink, create a plan and cut down slowly at your own pace.

2.  Watch out for withdrawal symptoms

If you do manage to cut down, be prepared for any potential withdrawal symptoms and make sure that there are people who can support you through this period., whether it be a family member or a neighbour. If you get serious complications, call 999 immediately or get help from A&E.

3. Prioritise your own health and wellbeing

It’s important for you to take this time to put your mental and physical wellbeing first. So try and break up each day with a sleeping, eating and exercising routine that works for you. Also remember to drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in thiamine, a vitamin effective in repairing brain systems damaged by alcohol consumption. If you need help staying motivated, then seek support from others on online groups. With people there to hold you accountable, keeping up a routine will be much easier.

4. Connect with others online

Although it’s frustrating not being able to enjoy face-to-face interaction in support groups, research has shown that more people are attending online groups in lockdown – so it would be well worth doing some research and joining an online support network that suits your needs. Some individuals may even find them more helpful than regular meetings, as they provide an anonymous way to seek help and could feel less stigmatising.

5. Plan your treatment ahead of time

If you have problems with drug addiction and are on a script, you will need to ask your drug treatment service about arrangements for prescribing during lockdown. If you are getting a script every week, for example, it might be possible to change to every two weeks. Your drug treatment service should have clear and up-to-date information that you can access regarding your prescription, even if they are making changes often.

If you are on a reduction plan, make sure you speak to your keyworker about what to do next, as with the heightened stress of the current circumstances, it might be best to stop any further reduction after discussion. If you’re not on a script, contact your local drug treatment service and ask for an assessment appointment.

6. Stock up on the equipment you need

Because physical contact with your key worker will be limited, anyone on a script needs to be especially alert to hand and drug hygiene, including taking extra care with drug packaging, equipment and injection sites. If you’re worried about running out of equipment, then you can talk to your key worker about stocking up ahead of time.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists have put together helpful resources for people with both alcohol and drug addiction.

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