Management of Withdrawal Symptoms during Lockdown

withdrawal symptoms

With more than three billion people around the world living under lockdown, is it likely that many people will turn to addiction while being confined to the four walls of their respective homes?

Before the country-wide, 21-day lockdown being announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several states had already begun preparations for such a situation. State government officials had already announced a list of essential services which would be active and functional during this lockdown phase. The list includes provision of basic necessities such as food, groceries, medicines, etc. However, the pubs and bars are to remain shut. The ban on alcohol is a well-intentioned attempt to minimize social contact as well as risky or anti-social behavior associated with alcohol consumption.

When confined, most of the strategies for coping with stress, such as outdoor sports or going out for strolls, no longer exist. But the stress keeps accumulating.

Staying at home during lockdown also implies that the factors that prevented alcohol and other drugs’ use impacting other aspects of life do not exist. This might be the first time that others in your household find out that you are using substances and keeping that use out of sight of children is quite challenging.

Psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centres across the globe are witnessing a spike in the number of people approaching them, especially those who are complaining of withdrawal symptoms due to non-availability of alcohol and illicit narcotic drugs.

When people stop consuming alcohol and administering illegal drugs after years of addiction to regular or adulterated alcohol or drugs, they suffer a from a lot of physical and mental health issues.

These issues, referred to as withdrawal symptoms are a result of sudden stoppage of consumption of alcohol or drugs and start showing within 24 hours. Some of the mild withdrawal symptoms are unrest, headaches, queasiness, nausea, insomnia and sweating & the more severe symptoms are hallucination, delusion, confusion, hypertension, fever, heavy sweating and even delirium tremens.

Forcing alcoholics, particularly, to go “cold turkey” can be life-threatening & could also lead to serious depression and suicide & may also result in violent episodes.

Methods to manage withdrawal:

  1. Banning the sale of alcohol may be necessary during the lockdown period in order to prevent the dissemination of covid-19. It may be beneficial to have specific clinics or centres for people to seek help for alcohol withdrawal. This is particularly important when hospitals and OPDs are high-risk zones for contracting covid-19. Most psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centres are open round the clock with their counseling and tele-counseling services available to the suffering population.
  2. There has been an increase in the number of virtual drink meet-ups, which promote a need for conviviality and decompression, without physically indulging in drinking.
  3. These “stress moderators” however, may not fit in with other activities that can be soothing while in confinement, such as watching movies or reading.
  4. With the right combination of counseling and medication, it is possible to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.
  5. It is advisable for people who are actively taking steps to stop drinking, smoking and administering drugs to: take their medications properly, eating and sleeping timely, taking care of their physical health by exercising indoors and staying hydrated.
  6. Tipplers suffering from withdrawal symptoms must practice yoga and meditation to overcome the withdrawal symptoms.
  7. For smokers, this phase provides too many opportunities to light up. However, when locked up, in order to prevent the exhaled tobacco smoke from affecting the health of those living with the smoker in the same house, the best thing to do is to replace the mode of administration to patches or use substitutes such as electronic cigarettes. The best option is to make use of this opportunity to quit smoking ‘cold turkey’.
  8. Both chronic alcoholics and chain smokers have to manage the issue of craving, which is an urge to use a substance. It is likely that you will have cravings while withdrawing.

Cravings tend to last for a few minutes. The following remedial actions can help overcome these withdrawal symptoms:

  • Schedule your day’s activities
  • Procrastinate administration or usage
  • Distraction of brain by engaging in activities like dancing and singing
  • Breathing slowly & meditating for composure
  • Asking oneself if one is hungry, angry, lonely or tired?
  1. Introduction of drug consumption rooms: These shall provide for safe and sterile places for people to consume/administer drugs. Also, they ensure that immediate help is on hand should someone accidentally overdose.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, owing to being abstinent from alcohol/substance usage, please feel free to connect with us at [email protected] Visit us: www.tulasihealthcare.com

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