March 12, 2021

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Studies Show Alcohol and Drug Abuse Are on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic

Recent studies have shown the stress and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a marked increase in alcohol and drug abuse. The pandemic has removed or restricted many healthy coping mechanisms that usually help recovering addicts and alcoholics to maintain their sobriety. Precautions intended to protect community health also may be contributing to many overdoses, including fatal ones.

Substance Abuse in COVID Time

Addiction experts say COVID-19 has led to substance abuse increases for several reasons:

  • Social isolation: The pandemic has increased susceptibility to substance abuse, addiction, and relapse, according to one report. Social distancing shut down many of the personal connections that are crucial for substance abuse recovery. Many of those in recovery need actual interaction with other people, which online therapy and support groups don’t provide. Once they relapse, users are more likely to overdose if they’re alone; and with no one to help them when they do, death is more likely.
  • Stress: Financial worries caused by job losses or reductions in work hours add to the emotional struggles felt by many trying to manage drug abuse and alcohol abuse. Concerns about contracting COVID-19 also are taking an emotional toll. Many former substance abusers may relapse when they lose loved ones, especially if the deceased had been part of their support network.
  • Lowered self-esteem: Job loss doesn’t just hurt financially. Some will turn to drugs or alcohol to soothe feelings of poor self-worth. Others will drink or use drugs out of boredom. Being stuck at home with little social interaction adds to the temptation to drink or use drugs to have something to do.
  • Reduced support: Many clinics and community-based organizations decreased their services in the early days of the pandemic, either because they were receiving less financial support or a desire to protect workers from infection with COVID-19.

Isolation may be the most significant factor in the rise in substance abuse. Experts say even short periods of isolation can negatively impact emotional well-being, often causing anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. It adds to the struggle of dealing with those conditions by removing the most healthy means of coping with the stress of isolation.

Overdoses on the Rise

As people have turned to drugs to cope with the stress and isolation required in the pandemic, overdoses are also rising.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), more than 40 states have seen increases in opioid-related deaths, citing data from national, state, and local public health agencies, law enforcement, emergency medical services, hospitals, treatment centers, research journals, and other sources.

“The AMA is greatly concerned by an increasing number of reports from national, state and local media suggesting increases in opioid- and other drug-related mortality — particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs,” the medical association said in the report.

Substance Abuse Rehab at Muse Treatment

The substance abuse professionals at Muse Treatment understand that isolation can be dangerous to someone struggling with an abuse disorder – as hazardous as supplying them with cases of liquor or bags of drugs.

Connecting with other people is an essential element of long-term recovery. Muse Treatment offers group therapy is in both residential and outpatient programs. Community-based assistance like 12-Step programs is another critical tool for long-term recovery.

For more information on Muse Treatment’s programs for substance use disorders, call 800-426-1818.

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