While 2018 was the first year in a decade to see substance abuse rates go down, the recent trend is less promising. 2020 has seen an increase in drug use, both legal and illegal.
Many experts attribute the sudden uptick in drug addiction to the coronavirus pandemic. The following is a breakdown of why these two things are related:
Uncertainty Creating Tension
The uncertainty everyone is feeling right now can make you feel tense. Some folks are not only feeling stressed but are also scared. Some are upset to levels they’ve never felt before. The United States has not handled the pandemic as many other developed countries have. Congress has not passed anything that gives Americans a sense of security. This uncertainty is forcing some folks to feel desperate. Drugs can offer an opportunity to escape, which is probably another reason why some people are abusing substances.
Spotting an Addiction is Challenging
Another reason substance abuse might be on the rise could be because loved ones and friends can’t recognize the signs. A lot of people don’t know this, but the indications of addiction aren’t always obvious. What’s more, the pandemic has many folks feeling depressed and anxious about their situation, potentially masking substance abuse when it occurs. As a result, the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal and other signs of drug abuse are sometimes difficult to spot. People struggling with addiction are at higher risk of falling between the cracks during times like these.
Stress Due to the Pandemic
You can’t do anything about the pandemic in this country besides practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and cleaning your hands well. You could also call your senators to pressure them to act. All of this can feel overwhelming, and it is. It feels like this pandemic is on your shoulders. Experts are saying that this kind of pressure can lead some people to start or continue to abuse drugs. Folks who haven’t reached that point should be conscious of this stress and do something to reduce it. Yoga and other similar physical activities can help reduce your stress.
Social Distancing is Difficult
Social distancing may be effective, but it’s also making people feel alone. A person dealing with substance abuse needs support right now. Loneliness doesn’t help a person feel supported. It could cause some of these folks to make the mistake of abusing a substance to feel better, according to studies. Yes, a lot of people are trying to redefine communication right now using telephones and video calls, but these aren’t working too well. Friends and family can offer love when they are near you, but they can’t do that now. Try your best to increase those calls if needed, and be honest about what you are feeling with your friends or family members.
People are Bored
Being cooped up at home, and not being with others can hurt. Some folks are quite social and don’t know how to deal with being stuck at home and not doing anything. In many states, bars, movie theaters, amusement parks, and many other entertainment venues are now closed or operating under limited capacity. Under these circumstances, some people feel like the only way to alleviate boredom is through drug use.
Hopefully, medical and psychological professionals work with the government to find a way not only to curve this trend but help those who’ve been affected. The US cannot handle other epidemics along with this pandemic.