Addiction up18% since pandemic started
Having barely passed the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that it’s left a lasting impression on us that’ll last for generations. No matter your stance or view, it undoubtedly had a significant impact on society, with quarantine and isolation being one of the biggest negative influences on mental health. This applies especially to those who had issues even before the pandemic that were then exacerbated by it, such as addicts either in recovery or still using. While through sheer deduction some could assume that there was indeed a big hit to addicts and those in recovery, it’s worth completely understanding the severity of the aftermath.
Once the pandemic first became the focus of the globe, addicts were some of the hardest-hit populations. Almost immediately – according to the American Medical Association – more than 40 states reported a concerning spike in opioid-related death. On top of that, according to studies and interviews conducted around the time, there was a general increase in the quantity and frequency of drug use during the pandemic.
13 percent of Americans reported that they started using drugs or increased use as a coping mechanism for the associated stress, and this led to an 18% increase in overdoses over the year. Some who were previously addicted to tamer substances were left with more difficult access to their substance of choice and would, unfortunately, move on to more extreme drugs and alternatives. One of these more extreme alternatives was fentanyl, which had a reported uptick and subsequent misuse that added to the staggering 100,000 overdose deaths reported by April 2021.
The effects weren’t distributed equally across the country, with rural areas, in particular, being disproportionately impacted. A study conducted by NYU would cover this, saying
“People who use drugs and live in rural areas may be disproportionately impacted by changes brought on during the pandemic, given that many rural areas have higher rates of opioid and methamphetamine use and already have limited drug treatment and harm reduction services. People who use drugs in rural areas may also experience higher levels of stigma about their drug use, which may contribute to a greater likelihood of using drugs alone and a reluctance to seek medical care.”
Their study would take them to rural southern Illinois, where they would interview a select number of users about their experiences.
“Our findings suggest that structural and community issues during the pandemic increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness on the individual level. Drug use patterns also changed, with many talking about their fear of fentanyl and increased access to it. All of these factors are likely to increase overdose risk,”
This would debunk the unpleasant stigma that cities are the true havens for drug activity, with the unfortunate truth being that the greater danger is closer to home than we’d think.
So, we’re obviously in a bit of a pickle here. However, as of writing the pandemic has slowed to a halt and so that can only lead us to ask: where are we now? Well, as mentioned the addiction rate for Fentanyl has skyrocketed, and the opioid epidemic has only worsened. However, there has been an increase in ways to address these issues as well.
With the obstacle of quarantines and potential risk during the pandemic came the implementation of remote working. While it was a thing before, its popularity and viability exploded once the need for work during the pandemic clashed with limitations. Remote work and services became more popular, and with that popularity came more eyes on the field of addiction treatment.
For those unfamiliar, there’s more to addiction recovery than just rehab. In fact, there’s a whole world of addiction treatment options that most are simply unaware of. One can enlist the help of a life coach, sober coach, or sober companion – individuals trained to address addiction in ways that prioritize the health and recovery of every client. While it may seem similar or indiscernible to rehab, there are some vital differences.
For one, there’s no need for a facility if not requested by the client. So if you would prefer not to be held in one location for a month or longer, you wouldn’t have to. They also prioritize the individual rather than focusing on groups. Whether it be a sober coach or a sober companion, they’ll be focused entirely on your recovery. What makes you tick, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how they can help you.
This naturally leads to the question; “That’s nice and all, but what does this have to do with COVID or the pandemic?” Well, another key differentiator from these alternatives to traditional rehab is the remote aspect. These services work best for individuals who would prefer not to be encumbered in a facility for an extended period of time. However, an inadvertent advantage of this came during the pandemic, when their services were more valuable than ever. Addictions coaches now had the unique opportunity to provide solace and support to addicts in their most trying times. They could reach people when other avenues simply weren’t an option!
Let’s take one of the most popular and reliable addiction treatment services: The Addiction Coach as an example. Helmed by the titular addiction coach Cali Estes, this organization provides unbelievable addiction support in all forms. Companions, coaches, in-home detoxes, counseling, therapy, all in-house. Each coach, companion, or otherwise is fully trained and certified, and able to assist. The Addiction Coach also goes out of its way to make sure the client is comfortable and in good hands, even going as far as to offer personality tests to custom fit each client with the perfect provider.
While the pandemic did some irreparable harm, it offered an opportunity to hopefully prevent this from becoming as big of an issue in the future through the power of exposure for great services. This is yet another example of a diamond in the rubble that can arise from situations similar – something irrefutably good that comes from a bad place. Often times that’s the best outcome one can ask for.