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Communities, families and individuals all over the world have long dealt with the drug addiction crisis. This year, COVID-19 has hit hard and made the crisis even worse. It’s the perfect storm, as two global pandemics collide.

This collision creates more challenges and complications for drug addiction treatment than ever before—for those who seek treatment as well as those who provide it. To add fuel to the fire, COVID-19 has placed unprecedented health, economic, family and psychological pressures on everyone. This pandemic is stressful. As people turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with the stress, they are at greater risk for developing addictions.

During the crisis and during its aftermath, those in recovery face the following challenges:


Wave after wave of lockdowns means that addicts in recovery can’t get to in-person meetings to get the practical and emotional support they need.

Treatment Barriers

COVID-19 has loaded our health care system with heavy financial burdens, and federal relief is only trickling in. Some have gone to their state governments for help, but states are cash trapped too. This makes it harder for treatment centers to retain staff.

COVID-19 also impacts people who think they might have a problem. Factors include:


Many times, it’s often family and friends who recognize that their loved one is sliding into addiction or into relapse. Because the virus demands that we isolate ourselves from one another, the signs of developing addiction are harder to to see.


If you’ve lost your reason to get up in the morning, there’s fewer reasons not to turn to drugs and alcohol.

Stress, grief, depression

We haven’t seen a global crisis like this since World War II, and none of us know how to deal with it.

Someday—we don’t know when—life will return to ‘normal.’ But ‘normal’ will never be the same. We all will have lost family, loved ones, ways of life, businesses, and jobs, and we’ll all need to adapt. This challenge will go on for years. It will hard for all of us, especially those in recovery for addiction.

The article below explores the collision of two epidemics in more detail, analyzing health policy and reimbursement factors in the crisis. It also looks at how one state, North Carolina, is working to cope with the crises.

North Carolina Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Uncertain in COVID-19

Erin Masercola is a talented writer and thought leader who leads content strategy at Engaged Media LLC.

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