We are now several months into a global pandemic. So far Australia has been relatively successful in containing the spread of the virus, and many may have thought that the worst was behind us. As restrictions ease across the country many of us have been reaching for recovery and a new sense of normalcy, and now feel alarmed by the virus’ resurgence in Melbourne. As many Victorians reenter a lockdown situation that reduces our sense of freedom and security, it’s natural to feel uncertain, angry and even afraid, but it’s important to focus on the steps we can take to improve our chances of protecting ourselves and our communities.
Although the pandemic is new to us, the cycle of change and recovery is familiar to us in the alcohol and other drug treatment and support community. Our current situation is a lapse — a minor setback. This isn’t a permanent defeat, and we can keep moving toward recovery. Every Victorian can make big or small choices and changes to fortify our communities against COVID — from washing your hands or wearing a mask to supporting local businesses or offering kindness and empathy to those living under restrictions.
We’ve compiled some resources to help you with any problems or concerns you may be experiencing.
Remember if you need support our counsellors are available 24/7 by calling 1800 888 236.
Last Updated 9 July 2020
There is a lot of information about this virus and it is difficult to work out what is real and what is not. We suggest you minimise the sources of information to help you keep a clear view of the situation, the Commonwealth and State Government websites are solid places to start.
As always we know practising harm minimisation e.g. using sterile equipment, managing dose etc. reduces the associated risks for people who use drugs and drink alcohol. With the increased risks presented by COVID-19 (it greatly affects respiratory function) it is additionally important that you look after yourself.
You can find useful tips and advice from Harm Reduction Victoria.
Self-isolation, restricted activity and staying at home
As community transmission increases in places, many people are again moving to self-isolation or lockdown, either as a legal obligation or personal choice.
You can find the most up-to-date information on Victoria’s restricted activities and advice on staying at home here.
We know that the more severe restrictions, such as total lockdown, may cause fear and distress even for those who are not directly affected by them. If you’re experiencing anxiety about your living situation, your neighbourhood, or even what you see on the news, it’s valuable to reach out and have a chat to us about your feelings on 1800 888 236.
Withdrawal or detox
For people who regularly use (or are trying not to use) alcohol and other drugs isolation and social distancing may present unique challenges.
People who use substances may find that they experience symptoms of withdrawal if they stop suddenly. Withdrawal can be dangerous, if you are concerned about you or someone else, contact your GP or talk to one of our counsellors on 1800 888 236.
Here are some sites with excellent resources to help you learn more:
- What to expect from meth withdrawal
- Your Room: A place to get facts
- Information about ice and change
We know during times of great stress and upheaval drug use can increase, this means the risk of overdose can also increase, particularly with social distancing measures in place that mean you may be alone. Take care of yourself and those close to you, if you are in a situation where someone is overdosing, try to remain calm, call 000 – emergency services are there to help.
Heroin and other opioids
Heroin and other opioids are responsible for more than half of the fatal overdoses in Australia each year. The majority of these overdoses are unintentional. Learn about the symptoms to watch out for.
Naloxone is an opioid-inhibitor that is frequently used to reverse overdoses, and is becoming more widely available throughout Australia. It’s a good idea to arrange to get some naloxone now, just to have on hand.
- 1800Respect offers support related to sexual assault, family or intimate partner violence.
- SANE Australia offers counselling and support for people experiencing or caring for mental illness.
- Suicide Callback Service also offers 24-hour telephone and online counselling for people concerned about suicide.
- Lifeline 13 11 14 offers 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention counselling.
- Gambling Help Online offers 24-hour telephone and online counselling for people who are affected by gambling.
- National Debt Helpline is a telephone line available Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm to discuss any problems related to debt.
- Headspace offer an online and telephone counselling service for young people 12–25 who are concerned about mental health issues.
- Kids Helpline is a free helpline for young people 5–25 to confidentially discuss any problem.
- QLife offers a free counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people experiencing any issue that may affect their health and wellbeing. Available 3:00 pm to 12:00 am.