The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of people around the world. It has significantly altered not only the way we live our lives, but also the way we perceive and react to the things happening around us. There are constant questions about safety, how things are being handled, and whom we can and cannot trust.
Nationwide shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, quarantine periods, and unemployment have had tragic outcomes, including an increase in mental health concerns and substance abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers statistics from a survey that was conducted on American adults in April, May, and June 2020 that states that 40.9% of respondents reported an increase in or the onset of symptoms of mental health disorders and drug and alcohol use.
It is not surprising that the isolation so many people experienced throughout the pandemic led to feelings of depression and anxiety. Many may also have suffered trauma, whether from firsthand experiences with COVID-19 or as a result of being exposed to the devastation the virus caused. This kind of suffering may also lead people to search for ways to ease their pain, which can come in the form of using drugs or alcohol.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that between October and December 2020, 25.9 million people who previously used alcohol and 10.9 million people who previously used drugs stated that they started using those substances more after the pandemic began.
The Link Between Substance Use & COVID-19
Fortunately, the news and social media have openedconversations regarding the pandemic’s impact on mental health. This has many benefits, including reducing stigma, helping people recognize that they’re not alone, and providing an outlet for people to share their experiences without feeling ashamed.
One thing that does not seem to be as frequently discussed, however, is the fact that individuals who use drugs or alcohol are one of the populations who are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.
Abusing substances can have extremely negative effects on the body. Opioids can slow breathing and lower the levels of oxygen in the blood, stimulants can lead to heart or lung damage, and smoking substances like heroin and marijuana can producechronic lung conditions. As COVID-19 is a viral illness that affects the body’s vascular and respiratory systems, a person who already has health concerns due to their drug or alcohol use is more susceptible not only to contracting the virus, but also to suffering from more severe effects. An article in MedPageToday notes that people who struggle with addictions have had higher rates of hospitalization and death as a result of COVID-19 than the general population.
A Need for Treatment
Discussions regarding populations who are at risk for contracting COVID-19 are ongoing, but there needs to be greater awareness of how those who are struggling with addictions fall into that category. Anyone who is suffering from a dependence on drugs or alcohol should consider seeking professional help. By doing so, they are taking a step towardprotecting themselves and those around them. If this population is more susceptible to contracting the virus, then they are also likely exposing their families, friends, coworkers, etc. to the virus as well.
In other words, the health risks associated with addictions are no longer strictly personal.
By getting professional treatment, people can learn to control their behaviors, manage their compulsions, identify triggers, and develop coping skills that may help them achieve and sustain sobriety.
Ultimately, it may save their lives.
About Sunrise Recovery Ranch
Located in Riverside, California, Sunrise Recovery Ranch is a leading behavioral health treatment center that offers residential and outpatient care for adults who are suffering from addictions and co-occurring mental health concerns. With an understanding that different populations benefit from unique approaches to treatment, Sunrise Recovery Ranch offers gender-specific programming, a specialized veterans treatment track, a tribal program, detox services, and an outpatient partial hospitalization program. Learn more about Sunrise Recovery Ranch by visiting www.sunriserecoveryranch.com.