How to stay safe during the Covid-19 Pandemic

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a destabilizing and deadly time for persons in recovery across the entire country. We know that we cannot pave the way to recovery if we can’t keep people alive.”

-Gordon Smith, Maine’s Director of Opioid Response

Living through the pandemic poses a unique threat to people who use drugs, with risks ranging from the isolation that comes with social distancing to avoidance of medical services and alterations in the illicit drug supply.

What You Can Do: Safe drug use during COVID-19

Safe drug use has always been important, but it is even more so now. Here are some guidelines to follow, with our current situation in mind:

  • Use your OWN supplies when using drugs to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can still get the supplies that you need, like naloxone, sterile syringes, and fentanyl test strips anywhere in the state.
  • Assign someone to check in with you (via text or phone) before and after you use
  • Test your drugs using fentanyl test strips since drug batches are always changing
  • Try using a small amount at first and go slowly
  • If you are using with someone else, do it safely by making sure you’re staying six feet apart from each other and you’re both wearing masks or cloth facing coverings
  • Have naloxone nearby, and call 911 immediately during a suspected overdose (for you or someone else)

General COVID-19 safety

COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person. Most people get it by coming into close contact (less than 6 feet) with an infected person and inhaling their respiratory droplets. People expel respiratory droplets when they cough, sneeze, talk, or even just breathe, and they do not need to have any symptoms to transmit the virus.

It can also spread between people in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation or through contaminated surfaces, though these methods of transmission are less common.

To keep yourself and those around you safe from COVID-19, you can:

  • Wear a mask
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Keep a 6-foot distance from others
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Watch for symptoms and follow CDC guidelines if you develop them

For more help dealing with the stressors of the COVID-19 Pandemic, visit Maine’s behavioral health and resiliency response website, StrengthenME.com.

StrengthenME provides free stress management, wellness, and resiliency resources to anyone experiencing pandemic stress. StrengthenME is free, confidential, and available to anyone in Maine.