Topsail Addiction Treatment

Spotting the Signs and Triggers of

Substance Abuse During COVID-19

"The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard," said Redfield. "As we continue the fight to end this Pandemic, it's important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences." This past summer (2020), a study of 5400 American adults indicated that 41% reported struggling with mental health or substance use due to the Pandemic. Another 13% admitted to "having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19."

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During COVID-19, there has been a toxic mix of social and physical isolation, worsening economic conditions, and a steady stream of stressful news. Any of these situations can be dangerous to a person with substance abuse disorder, but they can be deadly when combined.

Increased feelings of worry, anxiety, and stress drive may people to alcohol and/or drugs for what they may expect is some temporary relief. Unfortunately, they can also cause changes in your brain that will make you feel worse – and bring on additional stress.

It is imperative to break this cycle and seek out healthy activities that will help alleviate stress/anxiety/depression. Experts also suggest taking a break from the news and stepping away from social media to help reduce anxiety and other triggers for substance abuse.

If you find yourself or a loved one abusing drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress or anxiety of the Pandemic, get them help before it is too late.

Quarantine and Isolation are Proven Triggers for Substance Abuse

It is said that addiction thrives on secrecy, and the isolation of the Pandemic has provided it with ample cover. While research on the fallout of COVID-19 is in its early stages, clinicians have turned to other similar events as a way to gauge the potential damage we may see.

For example, scientists studied workers in China who were quarantined as high-risk during the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. They found that during the quarantine, there was a 25% increase in people who reported at least one or two symptoms of alcohol abuse or addiction. Perhaps more dangerous was that they continued to find “increased alcohol abuse/dependence symptoms” as long as three years after the end of the quarantine.

Another study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress followed New Yorkers who had been sheltering in place during the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Among that group of people,  prescription and alcohol abuse and binge drinking were found to be more prevalent and lasted as long as two years after the event.

When you consider the physical, psychological, and emotional isolation that the Pandemic has caused, it isn’t hard to imagine a significant increase in the number of people who have fallen into substance abuse or relapsed during COVID-19. How long that impact will continue is still yet to be seen.

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If you answered the questions honestly, you have a pretty good idea whether or not you have issues with substance abuse and addiction. A “Yes” answer on any one of them can be an indication that you should consider Substance Abuse Treatment.  Now is the time to get help. 

There are limited numbers of substance abuse programs in MA, and the ending of the Pandemic will lead to a rush for open spots.