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A Look at the Struggles of Addiction and Social Distancing for Those in Addictions Counsellor Training

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed individuals in unique scenarios that have required them to pivot and undertake new challenges and face new stressors. This has proved to be difficult for many with a history of addiction, where isolation and seclusion have previously been triggers for their usage (Roe, 2021). Anyone looking into training at Rhodes Wellness College will benefit from a basic understanding of just how much this pandemic has affected an already vulnerable population.

Continue reading to learn just how much COVID-19 social distancing has affected these groups, and how to prepare for your career after your training. 

A History of Addiction Creates Higher Risk of COVID-19 Harm, Making Social Distancing Even More Important

People battling a history of addiction and the mental comorbidities that often come with addictive tendencies are more likely to experience severe symptoms of COVID-19 (Bergman, 2021). Those recovering from addiction already face adverse health risks from heavy drug or alcohol use, even without the blow of a global pandemic (Volkow, 2022). This added risk makes it especially important for these individuals to adhere to social distancing guidelines in order to maximize their chances of staying COVID-free (Roe, 2021). 

When earning an addiction counsellor diploma, it’s important for students to learn how to relate to their clients and what they are going through. During the pandemic, social distancing is especially important for those with a history of addiction. However, isolation and solitude are two factors that play a huge role in the development of an addiction (Roe, 2021). 

Students in addictions counsellor training should understand the challenges that individuals with addictions have faced due to COVID-19

Motivational interviewing is a technique students will learn in the addiction counselling program at RWC. It is an approach that can prove beneficial in helping counsellors break through to clients and adjust their self-destructive behaviour. Navigating a pandemic with decreased social interactions, cancelled plans, and increased isolation has disrupted the recovery of many individuals (Roe, 2021). By understanding these factors, you can approach clients with compassion as you assist them in their recovery.

The Importance of Social Networks During Addiction Recovery 

Social networks are an important part of any individual’s recovery process (Roe, 2021). Addiction counsellors play an essential role in each client’s recovery, acting as a sounding board, an important resource, and a safe space to share their struggles. Students at RWC learn to help addicted clients take responsibility for themselves in order to improve their quality of life. 

Reports show that recovery maintenance could have slowed, and alcohol use could have risen during the pandemic due to decreased social interactions (Colditz, 2021). Taking this into consideration as a current or future student of the addiction counselling program at RWC can help you connect with clients on a deeper level, avoiding judgment and understanding the struggles they have faced over the past few years. 

It is important to understand the impact that positive healthy social networks have on the successful recovery of addicted individuals

How to Help Clients Maintain Recovery After Your Addictions Counsellor Training

During addictions counsellor training, it is of great value to take note of current social issues that could possibly plague your clients and add to their struggles. Understanding these issues is one challenge, and the next is coming up with valuable solutions that you can suggest that will be of benefit. 

In relation to maintaining recovery during isolation, studies have been performed in the last few years to assess the effectiveness of online addictions meetings and programs (Colditz, 2021; Bergman, 2021). One study found that when in-person recovery support services were limited, such as AA and other mutual-help organizations, digital supports can engage individuals enough to evoke similar changes in their behaviour (Bergman, 2021). If, during your future career in addictions counselling, you find a client is struggling with feelings of isolation or doesn’t have access to in-person resources, it may be helpful to suggest online support. Whether during a pandemic or not, our addictions counselling program teaches students the coaching and counselling techniques needed to assist clients on their road to recovery.

Are you interested in learning more about addictions counselling training in Vancouver?

Contact RWC for more information!

Works Cited: 

Bergman, B. G., & Kelly, J. F. (2021). Online digital recovery support services: An overview of the science and their potential to help individuals with substance use disorder during COVID-19 and beyond. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 120, 108152. Retrieved on March 4, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33129636/ 

Colditz, J. B., Rothenberger, S. D., Liebschutz, J. M., Rollman, B. L., & Kraemer, K. L. (2021). COVID-19 Social Distancing and Online Mutual Help Engagement for Alcohol Use Recovery. Journal of addiction medicine, 15(6), 512–515. Retrieved on March 4, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33323691/ 

Roe L, Proudfoot J, Tay Wee Teck J, Irvine RDG, Frankland S and Baldacchino AM. (2021). Isolation, Solitude and Social Distancing for People Who Use Drugs: An Ethnographic Perspective. Front. Psychiatry. Retrieved on March 4, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.623032/full 

Volkow, Nora. (2022) Making Addiction Treatment More Realistic and Pragmatic: The Perfect Should Not be the Enemy of the Good. NIDA. Retrieved on March 4, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2022/01/making-addiction-treatment-more-realistic-pragmatic-perfect-should-not-be-enemy-good  

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