There was no way that Americans could anticipate, let alone be prepare for, the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, particularly the severe financial impact inflicted on many households, corporations and small businesses and mass job loss across the country. By the beginning of June, the number of job losses across the US had surpassed 40 million*. Worryingly, there have been a number of studies** indicating those who are unemployed are more likely to misuse drugs and/or alcohol. For example, a recent survey by American Addiction Centers reported that 1 in 5 recently unemployed Americans are turning to alcohol. Even prior to the pandemic, many cities across the country have been impacted by alcohol and/or substance use. Rural communities, in particular, have been greatly affected by substance use in addition to rising rates of poverty and unemployment, which are two key community-level risk factors for addiction. The pandemic has the potential to amplify these negative effects, and for those cities that do not have sufficient systems in place to address the substance use and mental health repercussions, things can get much worse.
DrugAbuse.com, provider of drug and alcohol treatment resources and programs, conducted a survey of 3,000 Americans (aged 18+) to ascertain how many are concerned by the secondary impacts of the current economic crisis, particularly, substance use in their community. It was found that nearly half (41%) of people living across the Grand Canyon State, say they are concerned the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus will result in increased drug and alcohol use in their community.
Nearly 5.4 million people across the country lost their health coverage due to job loss, which makes these statistics even more worrying. In addition to unemployment, the pandemic is causing some to feel more isolated and exacerbating their anxiety and depression – all of which are components that lead to a relapse or hasten an existing addiction to a catastrophic level. As a result of the financial dilemma caused by the pandemic, one survey found that 48% of respondents believe more money should be allocated to substance use, treatment and prevention This highlights just how concerned Americans are about people’s ability to cope in these challenging times, as many turn to alcohol and/or substances during distress of this magnitude.
Additionally, the survey revealed 1 in 4 Americans (25%) say they have noticed their neighbors drinking more alcohol since lockdown began. With social interaction hampered during the pandemic, some people are engaging in habits they would not do under typical circumstances, such as drinking during the day.
While some may be drinking earlier, or more often, to cope with this extended disruption to their everyday lives, it’s also important to note that continual use of alcohol for this purpose can lead to dependency
“Because people deal with stress, anxiety and worry in many different ways, check on friends and loved ones who have been significantly impacted by the fallout of the pandemic,” said Melitta Basa, clinical director at Greenhouse Treatment Center and spokesperson for DrugAbuse.com. “A massive amount of people are enduring an uncomfortable level of uncertainty and instability due to financial and/or employment circumstances, and this situation may be too much to bear. Make an effort to maintain communication with those who may need it most. If you suspect that someone is developing an unhealthy relationship to alcohol, you can direct them to a number of online treatment and support services, virtual meetings and hotlines that may help them.”