Reports after previous hurricanes have found that people who used drugs shared needles during the storm and that some individuals undergoing addiction treatment relapsed to street drugs. Additionally, shelters in Florida reported drug overdoses during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.
For the recovery community in South Florida staying connected has helped so many people keep track of their peers in the recovery community to provide support. Not only are accredited addiction treatment providers coordinating with local officials to ensure the safety of their clients and staff, they are also connecting with families and loved ones to help clients update their contacts about current conditions.“People who use drugs need help in emergencies just like everybody else does,” he added. “You have people suffering the same stresses that everybody else is suffering, but on top of all those stresses they are suffering withdrawal.”, Gedale Fenster CEO at Evolutions Treatment said.
Meanwhile, people within the recovery community continue to check in with their peers. Many of us are dedicated to ensuring our friends in sobriety are safe and protected. In situations like this sometimes those in recovery also need someone to reach out to. These stressful times can be all it takes to push some individuals toward risk behaviors. In this case, relapse prevention maybe mean as much as staying connected through Hurricane Dorian.“Emergency scenarios tend to put a lot of stress on everybody. We try to make sure we don’t add to that stress,” Fenster said.A study of people who injected drugs, conducted after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, found that during the week after the hurricane, 60 percent of interviewees experienced withdrawal and 27 percent shared injecting equipment with someone they normally would not share with. The storm also disrupted opioid maintenance therapy and HIV treatment, with 70 percent of those interviewed reporting that they couldn’t get sufficient doses of medication and 43 percent of HIV-positive people reporting missing doses.
SERVICE AND SUPPORT Supporting each other within the community is a vital piece of the recovery process, both in the aftermath of a natural disaster and in the addiction recovery community. When something tragic impacts so many lives people always band together to restore stability to family, friends and neighbors. First responders and volunteers try to help people clear out wreckage, provide food and other important amenities, and rescue those in need. Public officials coordinate with other organizations and community efforts to help repair what needs repaired and ensure citizens’ health and safety.“If you’re in withdrawal, you’re going to make a desperate call,” Fenster said. “You may then turn to street drugs or be forced to go through a detox process that you didn’t want.” In short, great numbers of people commit to doing service to aid in the recovery.In the world of drug and alcohol addiction, service to others and giving back can be a pivotal aspect of the recovery process. Men and women in recovery from addiction band together to provide each other with the means to be safe and supported. Recovering addicts and alcoholics volunteer themselves to working with those most in need, and they take on positions of service in order to ensure everyone has an opportunity to stay healthy and safe.
All this can be seen in South Florida after Hurricane Irma, when both aspects of the community (recovery and non-recovery) have worked independently and collaboratively to protect the people in need and support each other. Addiction treatment and mental health services have actively coordinated with first responders.
This impact, which is often traumatic for those who experience devastation, loss, or displacement as a result of these storms, can lead people to self-medicate with substances. “I numbed the flashing images from those days of Katrina with alcohol and pills, trying to drown out the anxiety and depression just like the floodwater drowned New Orleans.”Meanwhile, individuals offer assistance to their peers through meetings and service work. Sometimes something as simple as a ride to work a place to stay with power makes a huge difference.But drug users in Florida are still too close to the storm, still in the thick of the trauma, to know how this event will shape their lives and their addiction.
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, alcoholism, or any co-occurring disorders please call us at (833) 818-3031 or visit www.evolutionstreatment.com