COVID-19 has rocked our world on so many levels. Beyond the virus, many people are suffering from the side effects of the shut-downs, joblessness, change in schedules, not being able to visit loved ones, and the list goes on and on. I was able to chat with Patrick Cronin of Ark Behavioral Health about the effects of COVID on substance abuse. He has provided insights on the topic as well as tips/resources for families suffering from substance abuse.
How has alcohol consumption increased since COVID?
“A survey based on the alcohol consumption during Covid-19 conducted by the NIH points out the increased amount of alcohol consumed in unusual moments mainly labeled as stress drinking and binge drinking. The survey, points out to both, regular and new consumers,” Patrick explained.
How has the pandemic allowed people to fall into more drinking and even abuse? How can they get out of that pattern?
“Reasons reported during the pandemic for alcohol consumption include but are not limited to:
- Misinformation on alcohol creating immunity
- Stress & grief
- Increased alcohol availability and Boredom
- Seek for validated sources (Governmental entities and organizations dedicated to conduct studies and provide legitimate information).
- Seek professional help and reach out to family and loved ones.
- Find new hobbies and new/safe interests.
Often recreational and holistic sources can be a good way to cope with stress and anxiety (i.e. Online meditation and yoga. Protected outdoor activities such as hiking, running, tennis, etc.),” Patrick continued.
What are tips to watch out for to know if someone you love is dealing with substance abuse?
“Some initial signs can be a change with tolerance, a constant justification for consumption, and episodes of loss of control with little to no feelings of remorse after.
Some signs can also be changes in:
- Mental and emotional well being”
What resources are available for people dealing with substance abuse (the person and those that love them)?
“Learning and understanding addiction can provide more empathy and connection among families as well as therapy sessions. “Taking care of yourself is the most important consideration if you are a caregiver.”(2).
Seek for help:
- Reach out to your loved ones
- COVID-19 And TeleHealth Services
- Professional help (Counseling or Treatment Centers)
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has created an exhaustive resource page for mental health during COVID-19.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources and resources specific to helping individuals with substance use disorders.
- Support groups such as AA and NA have continued their group meetings online.”