Coronavirus: Addictions Foundation of Manitoba sees increased calls

The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba has seen increased, sustained calls to its helpline since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, its spokeswoman said.

“One-in-five Canadians do experience problems with substance use during their lifetimes. These sorts of conditions where there is increased isolation, increased pressure and anxiety — [it] creates sort of the perfect storm where people may be turning to substances,” Denisa Gavan-Koop said Sunday on CJOB.

AFM is Manitoba’s provincially-funded addictions non-profit.

READ MORE: Drinking alcohol can increase risk of coronavirus infection: WHO

A recent Nanos poll commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction found 25 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 35 and 54 reported an increase in the amount of alcohol they drank during isolation.

Some, however, maybe drinking too much, or abusing other substances, Gavan-Koop said.

“These are our neighbours and our friends and our relatives, and it is important to act with care and compassion when folks do come and say, ‘I think I may be experiencing some challenges around this’, while connecting them with appropriate resources,” she said.

Gavan-Koop pointed to free resources like community helplines, as well as AFM’s virtual and in-person services for people struggling with increased substance use amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

1:05Substance addiction: How the COVID-19 pandemic affects people in recovery

Substance addiction: How the COVID-19 pandemic affects people in recovery

“Individuals do process and respond to stress in different ways, certainly this is a very stressful time, folks experience anxiety when there’s uncertainty,” she said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

with files from Meghan Collie

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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