Covid has affected our world
Covid has overcome our lives. New words and phrases like, “social distancing,” “essential business,” “quarantine,” “14 days” and “flattening the curve” are now universally understood and are everyday common vernacular.
Salutations such as, “Hey, is everyone healthy?” or “I hope everyone is safe,” have replaced the otherwise usual, “How’s it going?” or “What are you up to?”
Clothing has been affected too. Masks, cover-ups, gloves. And our jobs – if we have them – are mostly performed in the confines of our own homes with children underfoot, in make-shift offices, in front of a computer screen.
We do our research and educate ourselves about the virus. We transcribe data and listen to reports. We know all about the history and cause of Covid. Stories of bats, China, December. We also all know about Italy, Iran, their peaks, their recession.
Yes, Covid has taken root in our lives.
As of today, April 25, 2020, Covid has infected over 900,000 Americans, killing over 52,000 (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) and this number is expected to grow much higher in the months to come.
The realities of Covid are real. Sad. Traumatic. And devastating.
But sad, traumatic and devastating too are the realities and numbers of those affected by Substance Use Disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, SUD took the lives of 67,300 Americans last year (greater than the current 52K of Covid). In 2017, SUD took the lives of 70,237, and in 2016, over 63,000.
In fact, there have been over 750,000 American deaths due to overdose since 1999.
These numbers are huge.
To put this into perspective, the Vietnam war took the lives of 57,939 brave and courageous American soldiers. But unlike Covid and the Vietnam war, Substance Use Disorder goes much unnoticed. Conversations about addiction are quiet and often shame-filled and the history and root causes of the disorder usually remain uncovered.
Although the circumstances surrounding Covid are certainly different than the circumstances surrounding overdose, a life lost is still a life lost and loved ones suffer and mourn greatly after a death, no matter the cause.
So as we continue to be socially conscious and do our part to prevent the spread of Covid, let’s also be aware of our community members who are struggling to overcome addiction. They are battling this disease everyday.
Let’s talk about addiction with our family members. Let’s start today. Let’s make sure our children understand the consequences of drugs and alcohol on their lives and the lives of those who love them.
Let’s create open forums within our lives to discuss our concerns. Let’s educate ourselves about addiction and Substance Use Disorder – its language, history and origin – just like we do with Covid – so that we can learn how to better identify and equip ourselves in the future.
We hope by continual conversation and awareness, we can open the communication lines in our small communities so that little by little, national recovery can finally begin.
Water Gap Wellness is a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment center located in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Our program has an on-site Psychiatrist daily, offers 2 private counseling sessions weekly, group sessions daily and experiential adventures on the Appalachian Trail or at the beautiful Water Gap Wellness Inn. For more information, please call 1-833-WGW-HOPE
written by Annette Kaiser, Water Gap Wellness