Mental Health and Substance use during the Pandemic

Widespread shutdowns and social distancing measures have made it difficult for those seeking guidance and treatment for substance abuse issues to secure resources. Because of this, the United States has experienced a surge in alcohol sales and relapses as substance abuse becomes more prominent.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a particularly grave risk to the millions of Americans with opioid use disorder, who—already vulnerable and marginalized—are heavily dependent on face-to-face health care delivery,” researchers stated in “An Epidemic in the Midst of a Pandemic: Opioid Use Disorder and COVID-19,” a recent study that examined the effects of the unprecedented situation.

We had a pandemic with mental health and opiates and addiction prior to COVID. What COVID has unfortunately done is fueled another pandemic within a pandemic.  You have people in all stages of recovery that were used to going to 12-step-based meetings, Christian fellowships, Smart Recovery or other in-person groups.  Now people are worried about their jobs if they can pay their rent or other bills. Relapses have been through the roof!

You also have people who have mental health issues who are not able to get the help they need, or it has fueled underlining mental health issues that people might have been able to hide before the pandemic. Because of this people have been drinking a lot more.  Alcohol sales are up 250%.

While it’s safer to stay home to avoid getting and spreading COVID-19, addiction specialists acknowledge that staying home may increase feelings of depression and anxiety among people in recovery — and those are underlying causes of drug and alcohol use and addiction.

For many, rehab facilities, treatment centers, outpatient services, support meetings, and individual therapy are part of their ongoing treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, most of these services have changed from in-person to online, telehealth, or phone consultations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Hoping mental health or substance use problems will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. If you have concerns or if you experience worsening of mental health/substance use symptoms, ask for help.

You can reach Wrightsville Beach Counseling Center at 910-761-0110.  We are here to help you.