Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash
The Coronavirus disease pandemic has long tentacles. Thousands died already, but the pandemic also touched people in the general walk of life.
We are afraid, uncertain, and anxious. We are isolated, lonely, and worried about our finances.
But, a recent study found that the virus will also cause almost 80,000 deaths ‘of despair.’
Those with substance abuse disorder (addicts) are also affected. This blog looks at how patterns of addiction changed within the Covid-19 period.
A strange new world
Addicts often fall victim to circumstances. When things turn sour, a typical reaction might be to turn to the substance of choice, whether it is alcohol or drugs. Addicts might also change to another substance of their drug of choice become unavailable. Relapse is also possible.
Experts predict a rise in substance abuse throughout the next few months and increased rates of addiction.
Why is this?
People are stressed, lonely, and bored. They are cut off from their regular recovery resources, and many are unemployed.
One survey in December 2020 found that people most commonly turn to alcohol, marijuana, and prescription opioids.
55% of the respondents reported that they drank more in the previous month, while 18% said they drank significantly more. Almost 40% of the respondents said that they increased their use of illicit drugs.
In states where the Coronavirus hit harder (such as New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), almost 70% of people said they drank more.
The CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) also conducted a survey in late June 2020. The conclusion was that the emotional and psychological impact of Covid-19 is something to be reckoned with and that it has a real effect.
People that reported feeling anxiety and being depressed were three and four times more, respectively, than the same period in 2019. In the CDC study, 13% of respondents said they started to abuse some or another substance.
A whole lot more people reported feeling suicidal.
Deaths from suspected drug overdoses from March to May 2020 have grown sharply (with almost 20%) compared to the whole of the previous year.
What does it all mean?
We don’t know the full impact yet, but it looks like people are turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with life under the Coronavirus. It can become a dangerous habit.
Support services are essential. Many support groups meet online these days, but it is not for everyone. It is to be expected that as soon as the pandemic weans, there will be an influx of people with substance use disorders.
In practice, this means that people must be educated about the common psychological effects that a pandemic may have. (It can be mental illness or developing substance abuse.)
On a professional level, it means that healthcare services should be prepared to assess people remotely if necessary and have pathways of how people at risk can be treated.
Overdoses and domestic violence directly result from increased substance abuse. One can, therefore, not overlook psycho-education strategies. There should be comprehensive treatment options and services that help reduce harm, and it should be accessible.
How can I help my loved one?
Unfortunately, there is no genie in a bottle. Addiction is hard, and trying to help someone is sometimes even harder.
You can take the time to learn more about substance abuse. If you can understand your loved one's disease, it can help you be more aware of danger signs when your loved one might need help.
Speak up! An addict needs to understand that his family and friends are there for him. Talk to your loved one about everything that is in your heart. Communication is always a good thing.
There is a saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. You can encourage your loved one to get help, but in the end, the decision and the desire to change start with the person himself, not you.
Stay involved if your loved one is willing to enter treatment.
Remember to also take care of yourself.
Substance abuse is a massive problem in America, and this was the case long before the Coronavirus. However, Covid-19 made the situation worse.
Help is available, and you never need to think you are alone in all of this. If you (or a loved one) turned to substances during the pandemic, all is not lost. There are clinical and a host of other treatment options that can work for any situation. The essential thing is to realize you have a problem and to seek help.
At Largest Heart, it is our mission to bring you education and hope. The world around us changed in a very real way. Let’s strive not to make it permanent.