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The reality of substance abuse during lockdown

The reality of substance abuse during lockdown

My name is Andre Strydom, and I am the Continued Care Coordinator for Nurture Health, based at Nurture Woodlands.

We’ve already witnessed the havoc of Covid-19 around the world, and now we are faced with it on our doorstep, in our very own beautiful country. We are reminded of the elderly, the homeless and the many other that will suffer during this time, I am however reminded of the people caught up in a helpless world of Substance Abuse Disorders (SUD). The reality of panic buying of essentials like food and toilet paper, is as crucial to the distributers of drugs. The South African drug market is not immune to Covid-19 either and therefore they to, will respond irrationally. When our South African borders was shut down, along with a national lock down, the moving of drugs became more difficult, yet well-coordinated, even drugs are being stocked up, as it is a market that will continue despite regulations of national lock down.

If people can’t secure their drug of choice, they will look for alternatives as we know that the shortage of some psychoactive substances will mean that people are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, and some will be substituting these drugs with prescription drugs. The drug market has no standards to abide by, there is only one rule to the “dealers:” PROFIT, as there is only one rule to the addict: “GETTING HIGH.” With liquor and cigarette sales banned during the Covid-19 lockdown, South Africans flocked to local liquor outlets ahead of the 21-day-period to stock up on booze. But this coupled with being forced to be locked in, with a potential abuser has created a growing concern for local authorities, who have seen first-hand the impact that alcohol abuse has on the rate of domestic violence.

“Sandy Schutter Flowers, from a community policing forum (CPF) chair, says while drug crimes exist in their policing precinct, substance abuse and domestic violence is their biggest concern. “It is not only happening in the informal settlements. People think alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence only happens there. In the entire South Africa, we find partners abusing alcohol and drugs, then when the verbal abuse starts, it provokes the physical abuse.”

All these factors are to be considerate during this time, as the harsh reality of Substance Abuse is so connected to domestic violence and awareness is key in these challenging times. I am afraid that the Covid-19 pandemic can also be a real trigger for many that is in recovery, therefore people need to know where to turn to in these times should they feel the need to reach out for help: http://nurturehealth.net/woodlands

As people across the South Africa and the rest of the world contend with COVID-19, it is important to be reminded that the individuals caught up in Substance Abuse Disorders (SUD) could possibly be hit hard in this time. Reasons being that it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape. People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health. Additionally, individuals with a substance use disorder are more likely to experience homelessness or incarceration than those in the general population, and these circumstances pose unique challenges regarding transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. All these possibilities should be a focus of active surveillance as we work to understand this emerging health threat.

By Andre Strydom

Quote: “Anyone can give up; it is the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart, now that is true strength.”

– Chris Bradford

The power of choice

The power of choice

Monique Nienaber

Social Worker

“ALL limitations are self-imposed”

“You are not the victim of the world, but rather the master of your own destiny. It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny.”
-Roy T Bennett

There is a famous parable about the power of choice:

An old Cherokee Indian chief is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a fight between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good—he is joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and loving awareness. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person in the world.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

To which the old man simply replied, “THE ONE YOU FEED.”

We make decisions every day—from seemingly inconsequential choices, to larger ones that can affect the course of our lives. Part of the power of Mindfulness is that it allows us to make wiser choices—the ones that lead towards living a more healthy, meaningful, and fulfilling life.

The choices we make each day are powerful. They can nourish us or drain us. They can lead us into negativity, suffering and disillusionment or they can wake us up. They can move us one step closer to illness or one step closer to health. They can disconnect us from each other or cultivate more love, connection, and peace.

Our daily choices are precious moments in time where we make a statement about who we choose to be. And they are a creative force—creating a future for ourselves, our communities, and our world.

We often underestimate the power of our daily habits and decisions, but they ultimately lead to developing our enduring traits, carving out our character and defining our quality of life.

Today and beyond you will make many small decisions—from what products to buy, to how you speak or react, where you choose to hang out and how you use your time.

These choice-points can be like mini meditations of a sort. Times when you tune into your values, what really matters, makes you (and others) happy.

So, here’s an invitation for this week: Bring more presence into the ‘choice-points’ throughout your days. Bring your whole self to these moments and let your actions and words flow from that place of deeper awareness. Let those choices become like a form of art. Expressions of what is deepest and truest in you. Expressions of your wisdom, your love, your authenticity.

In this way you will infuse your days with awareness, feed the ‘good wolf’ and gradually craft your life into a masterpiece one choice at a time.

Feeding your mind with positive affirmations during difficult times is a choice. If you choose to direct your thoughts towards positivity the following will help you to stay positive during difficult times:

Express What You Are Grateful For

Even in the worst of times, most of us realize that we still have things in our lives for which we are grateful. Voice those blessings!

Practice gratitude. Talk about the things you are grateful for with your closest friends/family, your support group. Keep a gratitude journal to capture the thankfulness you feel for what you have daily.

Actively acknowledging what you’re grateful for will help you to always have a grateful mind and heart, even when bad things happen.

Have a Positive Support Group

Surrounding yourself with positive people will help you stay positive when in a negative situation.

There are plenty of negative people out there—avoid them! Their negative attitudes will only bring you down and be counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve by practicing positive thinking.

Exercise Your Body and Mind

We know that exercise is good for our mind and bodies. It releases those natural endorphins in our brains that make us feel better.

Exercise has physical as well as mental and emotional benefits. Getting out there and moving around will keep your body in better shape, as well as boosting your self-esteem for having the discipline to exercise.

Retrain Your Mind

Are you a person who continually beats yourself up mentally? Do you constantly question your actions and practice negative self-talk? The more you talk negatively to yourself, the more negativity will become a part of you.

Instead, practice the power of positive thinking. Any time a negative thought comes into your mind, replace it with a positive one. At some point, this will become more natural as your brain automatically turns a negative into a positive.

You Have Complete Control

It is so important to understand that we are all making choices all the time, even when we chose not to choose, we have still made a choice. It is our choices that determine our experiences.  The choices we are making today will show up in our experiences in the future.

Unless we are willing to take full responsibility for ourselves and the choices we make, we have no control over our lives.  We have been given all the power to create our experiences through our choices, but if we believe that outside forces are responsible for our choices, we give away all the power we have.

Sometimes making the right choice or even knowing how to choose is very difficult, but it is vitally important to understand that you are in charge of your own life if you chose to think for yourself.  If you chose not to take charge, you will experience the consequences of that choice, and simply be blown about by life like a leaf in the wind.

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