The country’s lock down or stay home rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic may endanger lives of people struggling with addictions, mental health expert Tshepho Mooketsi has warned.
Mooketsi made the warning during an interview with this publication. She noted that ever since the lockdown began there have been a lot of reported alcohol and or drug withdrawal cases. “Addictive traits mean an instance where the brain has been taught to live with a particular substance,” she said. “And when there is no supply of that particular substance, that person will be forced to enter into a withdrawal state.”
She said just like addiction, withdrawal is a kind of illness that needs particular attention to be dealt with. With that, Mooketsi noted it is advisable to those who are addicted to particular substances to seek medical attention as soon as possible. “Mainly because withdrawal goes with stages and it might actually lead to death because of multi organ failure,” she warned.
But how does one know that they have a problem and they need expertise intervention? “ It varies from drug to drug, the withdrawals of marijuana and alcohol are not the same,” she said. “But there are those that have similar withdrawal symptoms like shivering , confusion, nightmares and the hunger to use the substance.” She noted that people cannot have withdrawal symptoms without being addicted to any drug.
Verywell Mind- a USA based online resource that provides the guidance of mental health also hold the same views as Mooketsi. “The social distancing and stay at home orders can pose significant challenges, particularly for individuals with existing conditions,” they stated in their website earlier this month.“There is an abundance of evidence linking social isolation and loneliness to mental health and addiction issues.”
Meanwhile, Mooketsi noted that it is vital to emphasize that addiction is an illness and people must get assistance when they have it. “As a country we must accept that we are battling with issues of addiction from all ages and get to a position where we acknowledge that it is an illness that ought to be dealt with properly,” she advised. “Some people who have addiction problems are actually dwelling into crime to take care of their addicts and that can be dealt with only if we start accepting that addiction is an illness.”