COVID-19:Latest advice and update 18/3

COVID-19 advice for people who use substances

COVID-19 (CoronavIrus Disease) was first identified in 2019. It affects your lungs and can cause severe breathing problems. The usual symptoms are having a cough, fever (high temperature) and shortness of breath, so this can make it difficult to tell apart from other viruses like the common cold or flu.

If you have a prescription for substance misuse treatment:

  • Check if there will be any changes to how you will receive your prescribed medication.
  • If you have to self-isolate, make sure you let the service know and keep in touch during this time.
  • Make sure that the service has up to date contact details for you.
  • Keep your medication in a locked container, ask the service for a safe storage box if you don’t have one.
  • If you are receiving a detox or dose reduction, this may be put on hold until the service can offer you the more frequent face to face reviews that would usually be required.
  • If you are unable to pick up your prescription from the chemist, you can nominate someone to do this for you. Ask the service for details.

To help stop the virus from spreading, it’s important to keep everything clean and to take extra care:

  • Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water (or alcohol gel when unavailable) before and after handling any drugs or drug using equipment
  • You could be more vulnerable to infection: if you smoke, you are more likely to have chest issues. If infected, you could struggle with inhaling substances. However, injecting is still a really big risk. Oral and anal are safer alternative ways of taking drugs.
  • Make sure you have a clean surface before you prepare your drugs.
  • Don’t share from bags of drugs or drug paraphernalia like pipes, bongs, vapes, joints, snorting tubes or injecting equipment: colour coding may be useful.
  • Use new paraphernalia each time and make sure you know how to get access to new injecting equipment: avoid using things like cards, notes or keys which can harbour viruses and bacteria.
  • In case of accidental opioid overdose, make sure you have access to enough naloxone, ask the service for naloxone if you don’t have any.
  • Prepare your drugs yourself and avoid touching other people’s drugs or equipment.
  • If you have difficulty in getting hold of substances, ask for advice on how to reduce risks and how you can be supported and especially when self-reducing.
  • For every new supply, make sure you only try a small amount first, especially if using a new supplier or a supply that appears different.
  • Before injecting, crush substances down as fine as possible before use to reduce damage to the body.
  • Keep all injection sites clean and try to rotate injection sites so that the area doesn’t get sore which makes it easier to get wound infections.
  • Stay well hydrated and eat nutritious meals regularly.

 

If you develop a cough or a high temperature, then you need to self- isolate for 7 days. If you are well BUT are living with others who have developed symptoms then you should stay at home from 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.  If you continue to feel unwell or get worse then contact NHS 111 (111.nhs.uk/covid-19)

 

Avoid all physical contact, especially with older people, young children or other people who could easily become very unwell if they become infected. Avoid touching your face and sneeze/cough into your elbow or cover your mouth/nose with a tissue which must be put in the bin straight away. Regularly clean things like your phone that are frequently touched.

During this worrying time, it is normal to feel concerned or anxious. Make sure you look after your mental wellbeing and health. See how you can do this on the Mind website – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/  . If you need more urgent help, there are several free helplines that can provide support and guidance- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

Calderdale Recovery Steps launches Sparkle Through Winter campaign

We’re running a new Winter Sparkles campaign aimed at helping people who use our services, as well as the wider public, through the first few weeks of the year.

Research* has highlighted the particular problems associated with depression following Christmas, especially in groups who have substance misuse issues. To help our service users beat the winter blues, a campaign promoting #sparklethroughwinter has been launched by Calderdale Recovery Steps.

Emily Todd, Director of Services West and South Yorkshire said: “The short days and long, dark nights of winter can have a negative effect on people’s mind-sets, leading to further unhelpful thoughts. We are hoping these ideas for overcoming the winter blues will help people get over any self-defeating thoughts and sparkle through the winter”.

A selection of new posters have been developed and circulated across their services so users of Calderdale Recovery Steps services can easily see and understand these messages. They use strong imagery to enhance the messages on how to help make winter ‘sparkle’, with themes ranging from friendship, health and leisure.

Alongside the posters, staff and service users are being encouraged to share their own ideas on how to Sparkle through Winter on Calderdale Recovery Steps Twitter account as well as on Facebook using the hashtag #sparklethroughwinter.

*Leo Sher, Alcoholism and seasonal affective disorder, Comprehensive Psychiatry

Support at this time is particularly important for those who may have issues with alcohol and/or drugs and who might try and cope with negative feelings through substance misuse.

Our tips include:

  • Keep active – A daily walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.
  • Take advantage of any sunshine – Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.
  • Keep warm – Being cold may make you feel more depressed, so staying warm may reduce the winter blues. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees).
  • Eat well – A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Try something new – Keeping your mind active with a new interest may help you get through the winter blues. It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on.
  • Connect with other people – It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.
  • Talk it through – Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms. See your GP for information on what’s available locally
  • Keep to your care plan – It’s been designed to help you achieve your goals.