Why Substance Use Is Getting Worse During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an array of related problems, including an increase in the incidence and severity of drug addiction.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 people, as many as 20 percent of respondents reported that they or a loved one had increased their use of controlled substances since the beginning of the pandemic.

The increase in substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic can be attributed to several different issues, including stress and social isolation.

What we know for sure is that there is a greater need for treatment and support, both for individuals in recovery and people starting to show signs of substance use disorder for the first time.

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One of the primary issues contributing to the recent increase in substance use is stress. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress levels across the general population in multiple ways.

With many businesses and other service providers closing their doors because of infection risks and government regulations, a large number of people have lost their jobs, leading to economic hardship.

In addition, the general uncertainty that comes with the pandemic has added to stress levels. No one can predict when life will return to normal, leading to anxiety and concern.

Furthermore, the risks associated with the disease itself have caused even higher levels of stress, as people are worried about catching the virus or passing it to loved ones.

Social Isolation

In addition to increased stress levels, the pandemic has also forced many people into social isolation. Social distancing has been essential in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, but it has had unwanted consequences as well.

One of the primary negative consequences of social distancing has been social isolation. Addiction is already considered a disease of isolation, so social distancing measures seem counterintuitive to most recovery efforts.

For people who are predisposed to addiction or substance misuse, social isolation poses a significant risk because support systems and treatment options may be disrupted.

How To Cope With The Pandemic

There are steps you can take to improve your life during the pandemic and reduce the risk of turning to drugs or alcohol. Here are some tips for dealing with stress and social isolation.

Find Ways To Relax

If you’re feeling stressed over the pandemic or any other issue, find a way to blow off some steam that doesn’t involve the use of alcohol or drugs. For example, you may enjoy meditating, reading a book, or watching a favorite movie or TV show.

Connect With Friends And Family Outdoors Or Via Technology

Social distancing guidelines may prevent you from connecting with friends and family in the same ways as usual, but you can still maintain social bonds: use technology or meet outside to nurture these relationships safely.

For example, you may speak to your loved ones on the phone or via video conferencing technology. Or, get together in a park or backyard where you’re outdoors and there is plenty of space for social distancing.

Go Out Safely

As social distancing guidelines begin to relax, you may be able to enjoy some of your former activities, including support groups and church gatherings.

However, COVID-19 is still spreading through the population, so it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. Wear a mask, stay six-feet apart, and avoid direct contact with anyone who has symptoms of illness.

Remain Active In The Recovery Community

If you have struggled with addiction in the past, your risk of relapse may increase during the pandemic. Remain connected to the addiction recovery community through virtual or socially distanced in-person gatherings or groups.

Get Support When You Need It

If you feel yourself slipping and are worried about relapse, seek support from a sponsor, treatment professional, or another trusted individual who can help you stay sober.

We’re Here To Support You And Your Family

If you or someone you love has developed a substance use disorder during the pandemic, professional treatment is recommended. Addiction Campuses offers both on-site and online addiction treatment options to help you live out your best future.

Harvard Health Publishing - A tale of two epidemics: When COVID-19 and opioid addiction collide

MSN - Substance use up amid pandemic: survey

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