Hurricanes drive drug, alcohol addiction issues into public square – New York News

In the whirr of preparations for Hurricane Irma, a needle exchange program in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood handed out extra syringes to heroin users. Others trying to break from the drug’s grasp picked up advance medication from methadone clinics.


Disasters cause stress, and stress can cause relapse for people struggling with addiction, whether their problem is alcohol, tobacco, pills or heroin. Authorities planning for the devastating effects of hurricanes now factor in the heightened danger of relapse and overdose.

The problems of alcoholism and addiction become more public in a storm, said researcher Andrew Golub of the National Development and Research Institutes in New York, who studied illicit drug users in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

“During a storm, it becomes harder to hide and cope with one’s addiction in private,” Golub said.

Scientists learned from Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. Drug users took chances during storms, researchers found, avoiding evacuation to stay near their dealers or sharing needles with strangers putting themselves in danger of HIV and hepatitis. Those in treatment missed doses of medications and went back to street drugs to avoid withdrawal sickness. During Sandy, clinics that lost power measured…

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