Are you Ready for the New Normal?
Social Distancing has helped many people hide their Substance Abuse.
May 29th, 2021 is when the people of Massachusetts will begin to experience the “New Normal,” as almost all of the mask mandates, social distancing guidelines, and other quarantine restrictions will be removed. For many, it’s a good time to take a personal inventory of where their lives are headed after 18 months of lockdown.
In less than two weeks, bars, restaurants, dance clubs, music venues, and even Fenway and the Garden will all be back to full capacity. A euphoric celebratory-atmosphere and easier access to alcohol and drugs will be triggers for many who have developed substance abuse issues over the past 18 months.
Data from the CDC estimates that nearly 900,000 people in MA will have increased their use of alcohol or drugs during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the reopening of the state can be a perfect storm of events to turn these behaviors into a full-blown substance use disorder.
COVID-19 Hid Many Substance Abuse Problems
Obvious physical symptoms are often the first clue that a person has developed a substance abuse problem. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, these include:
- Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
- Runny nose or sniffling
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
- Unusual odors on breath, body, or clothing
The COVID-19 Pandemic has provided perfect cover for many people who may have developed substance use disorder. SUD is often first noticed by friends, family, or co-workers, who can intervene and help begin the process of recovery. Working from home and maintaining social distance guidelines have allowed many people to hide their growing substance abuse problems.
Self-diagnosing Substance Abuse Disorders
Daily life for many people is about to change dramatically, and now is a good time to take a long hard look at some of the potentially dangerous behaviors you have developed over the past year and a half. This is particularly important when it comes to your use or abuse of alcohol or drugs during the Pandemic.
Below is a series of screener questions that addiction professionals have created to help identify a potential substance abuse problem or substance abuse disorder.
Behavioral Cues of Substance Abuse
Does your drinking/using create social or interpersonal problems?
It’s not normal to be stuck in a house with the same people for a year and a half, and that can lead to interpersonal strife for anyone. But if you are honest with yourself, can you see that your substance use is causing relationship problems with friends and family. Are you fighting more than normal? Do you find yourself retreating rather than deal with people? Are you concerned about your ability to deal with co-workers when you return to a normal work environment?
Are you neglecting your responsibilities because you are drinking/using?
During the Pandemic, it has been harder for people to keep track of their regular schedule, but if you are missing appointments or responsibilities because you are drinking/using (or recovering from drinking or using), you may have a problem. This includes things like:
- Banging out sick from work because you went too hard last night
- Missing school or family appointments
- Cancelling and rescheduling healthcare or mental health treatments
- Skipping court, probation meetings, or drug screens.
Have you given up normal activities to drink/use?
Have you stopped hanging out with your friends? have you stopped working out? When you stop doing things you enjoy because it doesn’t accommodate your drinking or using, that is an indicator that something might be wrong.
Are you taking risks when you use or drink?
Is your use/drinking leading you to make decisions that are dangerous to yourself or others? Are you blacking out, overdosing, driving, or working while under the influence?
Do you spend too much time using or trying to get drugs/alcohol: Take a look at your typical day and add up the time you commit to using or drinking.
The time you spend under the influence + time you spend doing things to acquire drugs or alcohol + the time you need to recover from using/drinking = a good indicator of how important drinking or using is in your life.
Physical/Mental Cues of Substance Abuse
Has your tolerance increased during the Pandemic?
You’ve likely had more opportunities to drink or use with a less rigid schedule. Have you noticed that you’ve developed a tolerance and have to use more to get the same effects as before? This is a sign that you may be headed toward a substance abuse problem.
Have you started to use drugs/alcohol more?
The CDC reports that 13% of Americans have started or increased using or drinking during the Pandemic. For many people, women, in particular, the regular “two bottles of wine per week” has turned into four bottles and a fifth of Titos.
Have you tried to quit or control your use and failed?
Recreational users or people without substance abuse disorders can stop drinking or using with little to no consequences. Have you told yourself you need to quit but can’t do it on your own?
Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms when you’ve stopped using or drinking?
The reason that liquor stores remained open as “essential businesses” throughout the Pandemic was that the risk of sudden withdrawal symptoms for alcoholics is potentially deadly. What happens when you stop using or drinking – even for a little while? If you’re experiencing the physical, mental, or emotional symptoms of withdrawal, your body may be trying to tell you something is wrong.
Do you have physical or psychological problems related to your use/drinking?
Have you damaged your liver from drinking? Do you have respiratory problems from smoking weed, meth, or cocaine? Do you have mental issues like anxiety and depression that stem from your drinking or using? These are just some of the costs associated with substance abuse.
Substance Abuse Treatment in MA
Are you ready to return to the “New Normal?” Has the stress of the Pandemic and quarantine led you to turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with stress, anxiety, or loneliness? If, after reading these questions, you think you might need help with substance abuse, TOPSAIL ADDICTION TREATMENT is here to help.
Today’s substance abuse challenges are significantly different than those facing previous generations. TOPSAIL ADDICTION TREATMENT center in Andover, MA, has been designed specifically to help people like you recover from the substance abuse challenges in a way that is comfortable, safe and discreet.
At TOPSAIL, we understand that no two people are alike and that no two addictions are the same. Our licensed professional staff will get to know you and will help to customize a treatment program to fit your personality, medical history, and your goals for recovery.
TOPSAIL ADDICTION TREATMENT has the tools and support necessary to help you throughout your recovery. We offer four levels of treatment programs, including Full-Day (PHP), Half-day (IOP), Weekly(OP), and a nighttime IOP for people who are still working during the day.
Call (978) 475-0002 right now, and you will reach one of our addiction support teams 24-hours a day/7 days a week. TOPSAIL ADDICTION TREATMENT can help you control your substance abuse problems and get on the way to taking your life back from the grip of addiction.
Blog Have you reassured yourself that you can’t possibly have a drinking problem? After all, you’ve never had a DUI and you’re certainly not homeless