New Trends of Substance Abuse Surges During COVID-19 Pandemic

Substance Abuse Overdoses Spike during COVID

According to the American Medical Associationmore than 30 states have reported an increase in opioid-related mortality. In addition to that, there’s a growing concern regarding those with mental health and or substance use disorder exacerbated during COVID-19 first wave and now the second wave. Individuals with mental health and substance abuse problems were already struggling before the current COVID challenges to our daily life. Stay at home orders and the shutdown of non-essential functions has caused an almost isolated culture. Isolation is an accelerant to substance use and depression and these numbers will continue to rise as an unintended consequence of keeping people indoors and social distancing. The breakdown of normal society and fear has also driven up drug use and overdose. Without community resources and many laid off from their jobs coupled with orders to stay home, most new individuals don’t have a foundation of recovery.  Many prior safe havens are closed or function at a fraction of their prior capacity leaving many people without the help they need. In 2018 the overdose rate had gone down for the first time in many years from the year prior and now experts fear that overdose could spike worse than ever before.

20% increase in deaths in the first months of 2020, compared to last year

A recent report released by Harm Reduction Ohio, a Granville-based nonprofit agency, the purported largest distributor of naloxone in Ohio, and a supporter of science-based treatment over punishment and incarceration for minor drug offenders, showed a 20% increase in deaths in the first months of 2020, compared to 2019.  And as county coroners are given six months to investigate and rule on overdose deaths, this means that where this trend continues, drug abuse-related deaths are on track to break the all-time annual record of 4,854 set in 2017.  This discouraging report comes as the first waves of COVID-19 vaccines make their way into the population.

Officials in Ohio, responding to surging overdoses in the face of the recent massive COVID-19 outbreaks, presented their budget for 2021-2022 this week, including $4.5 million to help build a $50 million mental health and addiction recovery center in Franklin County. This facility would include short-term beds, a walk-in clinic, and inpatient treatment. Also, the state legislature is reviewing a bill that would reduce criminal penalties for certain low-level drug offenses, and expand the use of treatment rather than a default criminal conviction for people struggling with addiction.

COVID’s Powerful Negative Impact on Substance Abuse Victims

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened social problems including loss of employment, with a corresponding loss of health insurance benefits, food insecurity, children no longer at school due to COVID distance learning precautions, and parents out of work.  These mounting stressful factors rob people of hope and work to build ever-increasing stress and anxiety driving people to self-medicate their resultant mental health problems through overuse and outright substance abuse of medications to alcohol and more.

COVID Isolation impact of substance abuse 

The COVID-19 virus has challenged our families, friends, and neighbors like never before. While our communities continue to adapt to help those in need.  The pandemic has proven a resilient obstacle for both mental health and its resultant substance abuse crisis.  Recent reports show alcoholism and overdose rates surging along with COVID-19 mandated lockdowns, social distancing, and isolation.    The Covid virus has restricted patients from seeking medical treatment and has even resulted in closures of some substance abuse clinics along with fewer in-person residential treatment providing live-saving programs to people suffering from substance use disorder.

In recent months closures and temporary service, suspensions included community groups, 12-step meetings, church, and other group therapy have meant many must go without the help that is ordinarily provided in most communities.  With diminished treatment options and fewer support groups, people are falling between the cracks without the critical support structure needed to stay sober.   Recovery is a life long process and post treatment support is critical in the success of maintaining sobriety.  That’s why continued active participation along with daily recovery maintenance is so critical to continued sobriety success.  Covid restrictions, including minimized outings, limited gatherings with recommended limited holiday travel extended to family reunions during Thanksgiving and Christmas coupled with a stay at home order in some locations, have ravaged opportunities to help individuals with substance abuse issues that desperately need help now. The effect of virus-related restrictions has robbed and isolated those with addiction problems leaving many in despair.  The added overwhelming stresses and lack of support have made relapse that much more likely for those who achieve recovery but needed day to day continued support to stay sober.  Recovery success requires years of support and Covid has continually chipped away at community support treatment programs.

Where to get substance abuse help during COVID

Ambrosia Treatment Center continues to lead and serve those suffering from substance use disorder.   Backed by a world-class compassionate team, in multiple locations, and an advanced cutting edge curriculum our team understands today’s problems and knows how to treat substance abuse in the present COVID environment.  During the COVID  uncertainty, we’re providing a treatment haven for those who need help.   We’ve implemented new advanced pre-screening for all clients dedicated to enhancing the safety and recovery of clients in our care.  While COVID’s exacerbated addiction problems won’t disappear with a vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna and a ravaged economy lies in its wake, we haven’t missed a beat and continue to offer the treatment clients expect.    Rest assured, we continue to advanced treatment programs and our efforts will persist long after the coronavirus era has gone.

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