Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? The 2020 pandemic is still a significant problem throughout the globe — especially here in the U.S. In addition to the physical issues associated with the virus, more research surfaces about the pandemic’s lasting mental health effects.
Unfortunately, many predict that mental health professionals won’t keep up with the number of people who need help with depression and anxiety due to this pandemic.
That means more people will undoubtedly turn to other coping mechanisms. As a result, we will likely see a wave of addiction in the coming months and even years.
Since February 2020, doctors and ER units nationwide have already seen an explosion in alcohol-related issues. Sales of alcohol have also consistently gone up throughout the pandemic.
Knowing this, how do we approach this wave of addiction?
The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 has caused plenty of more issues than merely physical illnesses. People who once dealt with addiction are at a greater risk of relapsing. Those who feel as though they don’t have anywhere else to turn may look at alcohol or harder drugs like opioids for the first time.
What aspects of the pandemic are contributing to these mental health issues?
The biggest one, undoubtedly, is loneliness. Even if you consider yourself to be an introverted person, people are social, by nature. Feeling completely isolated and disconnected from others can make you feel alone, without any support. Studies show the negative impact of loneliness lasts for years. It can even impact your physical health.
Of course, it’s impossible to ignore the uncertainties of this entire pandemic. People have lost jobs, children run risks going to school, and even though places have started re-opening, many states still have mask mandates.
There is still so much anxiety surrounding COVID-19, and it only builds up with the upcoming (and volatile) presidential election. Feelings of anxiety combined with feelings of loneliness, are often a recipe for disaster.
How People Cope on Their Own
Because depression and anxiety are so prevalent, there are a variety of ways to deal with them. Some people take medication; others seek therapy. Sadly, far too many people find harmful ways of coping, including drug and alcohol use.
Since January of this year, for example, Texas has seen a massive rise in both alcohol and guns/ammo sales — which is a horrible combination. But, people are looking for ways to numb whatever worries they may be feeling. That goes far beyond alcohol into harder drugs. When you learn more about opiate addiction and the brain, you find that it can lead to euphoria feelings. Who wouldn’t be looking for that right now?
Unfortunately, the effects of drugs and alcohol don’t last, so people need more and more to get by.
Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? Absolutely. But, there is hope for those feeling anxiety from the effects of this pandemic.
If you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, or overwhelmed, you are certainly not alone. Still, you also don’t need to turn to a substance that will only compound the issues.
Even if you can only reach out to someone digitally, do whatever it takes to make connections and find your support system. The times are still uncertain. Together we will see it through, and you don’t have to depend on substances to feel better about the state of the world.
Feel free to contact me if you’re struggling to get through this pandemic or visit my page on opiate addiction and the brainto learn more about how I can help. Together, we can work on more effective ways to work through your anxiety so you can manage your symptoms daily.