This past week, a number of high profile news outlets (including Yahoo Finance and The Wall Street Journal) published notable articles about the state of addiction in America. Of course COVID-19 plays a huge role in where we stand today, but these journalists believe that the the coronavirus effects are much more damaging than people realize. In fact, elements like quarantines, less accessibility to recovery centers and overall anxiety are being dubbed “the perfect storm” for a devastating crisis.
Yahoo News interviewed medical professional Gina Carroll from noted treatment center Gallus Medical Detox and she used those words at length to describe the current situation.
“The opioid epidemic that we were already battling coupled with a health pandemic, it’s a perfect storm for an increase in the number of people who will develop a substance use disorder,” Carroll explained on the site. “We’re likely to see alarming numbers this year in those increases, most of it brought on by stress and financial, emotional stress from the pandemic.”
One of the saddest facts highlighted by the article was that the opioid addiction crisis was showing some signs of a decline prior to the health pandemic. Fatal overdoses in 2018, for example, dropped by 4.1 percent from the previous year. Not a huge decrease, of course, but perhaps some promise as more governmental organizations began to take notice of the problem.
Unfortunately, new data released in August 2020 is showing a spike in the opposite direction. Looking at just the past six months of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 13 percent of Americans had either started or increased their substance use habits (including everything from opioids, to hard drugs, to alcoholism).
If you take a step back and look at COVID-19’s impact on society as a whole, it’s not that hard to see why this trend is emerging. These past several months have led to thousands of job losses, increased stressors for parents educating children and, as Carroll added, an overall decline in support networks (among other things).
“The trends we’re seeing now are very alarming,” she concluded. “We’ve seen an increase in patients returning to our facility for detox that had been successful with their battle with addiction. With the social distancing guidelines, sober gatherings and contact with sober friends and other people has come to a halt. So you know, what they’re used to doing every day to stay sober is — it’s essentially gone. So again, relapse is a thing we’ve been seeing, which is terrible.”
If you or someone you know is having a difficult time maintaining sobriety during COVID-19, please reach out to us for added support.