Drug and Alcohol in the Community
Half of Americans are concerned about increased substance use in their communities due to the economic impact of Coronavirus, a survey reveals.
There was no way that Americans could anticipate, let alone be prepared for the aftermath of the global pandemic, particularly the severe financial impact inflicted on many households, corporations, and small businesses, as well as 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 that 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 is 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, a 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 communities. It was found that overall, nearly half (47%) of Americans say they are concerned that the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus will result in increased drug and alcohol use in their community.
When broken down by city, it was found that LA is the most concerned about the impact of drugs in their neighborhoods as a result of the economic crisis—86% said they were worried about its effects. Elsewhere, residents of Atlanta (80%), Dallas (80%), and Chicago (79%) were among the most worried in America.
View these results across the U.S. in the following infographic:
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 relapse or can 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 that 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 engage in 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 drug and alcohol abuse hotlines that may help them.”
How to Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Misuse
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or drug misuse, help is available and recovery is possible. You can contact a caring admissions navigator with American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at . They will answer any questions you may have and help you understand treatment options. You can also check your health insurance coverage using the form below or contact free substance abuse hotline numbers.
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* https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/28/us-job-losses-unemployment-coronavirus [theguardian.com]
** https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/drug-addiction/news/covid-unemployment-abuse/ [therecoveryvillage.com]
*** https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/07/15/uninsured [advisory.com]
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