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There is no shortage of articles that offer advice on dealing with lockdown: stick to a routine, sleep well, eat regularly, maintain social connections at a safe distance, and so on.
Drug use is often not on the list, but early signs indicate that so many people are dealing with a dark and uncertain reality, according to an expert at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
"It will be important to keep an eye on substance use patterns throughout COVID-19," wrote Katharine Neill Harris, Alfred C. Glassell, III, Fellow in Drug Policy at the Baker Institute, in a new blog post. "At the moment, we can assume that at least some people are using drugs or are using them more often to cope with the new challenges of life: considering that the virus infects themselves or their families, normal work and social routines financially affect instability, social isolation and loneliness, to name but a few. "
Neill Harris is available to discuss the topic with the news media.
"That drug use is a response to external stress may sound obvious, but the American response to drug use has rarely addressed environmental causes and instead treated it at various times as a moral failure or chronic illness." She wrote.
"The prevailing view of drug use and addiction emphasizes biology about life events," she wrote. "According to the disease model of addiction, repeated and prolonged use of drugs" kidnaps "the brain's reward system and makes the person powerless against cravings. It is considered to be a chronic disease that is often compared to diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
"While these analogies have helped get support for drug-based treatment for opioid use or for a relatively less punitive drug policy, the disease model does not adequately consider – and cannot explain – the external context that affects a person's drug use behavior "why people react differently to drugs in different situations, or why most drug use never leads to addiction," she wrote.
"By tightening the conditions under which people use substances as a coping mechanism and by having many more people perceive them, COVID-19 has created a greater urgency and opportunity to improve our understanding of drug use," she wrote.
"How a problem is framed determines the type of solutions that people consider acceptable, and recognizing addiction as an adaptive response is central to obtaining support and funding for interventions that address the underlying needs are tailored to a person (housing, income, stability, physicality and psychiatric care, etc.) and not only or primarily their drug use. "
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Expert: Pandemic requires new ways of thinking about drug addiction (2020 May 1)
accessed on May 7, 2020
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