When the pandemic began in early 2020, its potential impact on substance use disorders was already on the minds of many people. Now halfway through 2021, the trends emerging in SUDs is giving us a clearer picture of how the Covid era is creating a greater need for treatment. Today, let’s look at some current addiction trends and what to look for in family and friends who may have developed an addiction since you last saw them.
Current addiction trends show a rise in the misuse of alcohol, opioids, and stimulants since the pandemic began. Self-reporting statistics through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal the increase in people starting to use drugs or alcohol or increasing an already problematic amount. The demand on substance use and mental health treatment also supports the growing rates of adults with substance use disorders. Emotional and financial stress caused by the Covid-related isolation are considered factors in the rise. Safe, residential treatment is available for people with SUDs and co-occurring mental health disorders.
What’s Up in 2021: Alcohol Use, Opioid Use, Stimulant Use
We can look at several areas to track use of these types of substances. A survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one way. In it, 13% of people report using an increased number of substances or starting to misuse drugs or alcohol. Retail sales is another with alcohol sales rising since the pandemic started.
Increases have been seen in use of nonprescribed fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. An increase in drug overdose deaths also occurred. The synthetic opioid fentanyl is responsible for escalating overdose deaths in 30 states.
Changing access to drugs during the pandemic can be a factor. The shutdown may have made it harder for some people to acquire heroin, for example. They may have looked for ways to replace it and began using a more accessible and stronger drug, like fentanyl, instead.
Has the pandemic caused lasting substance use issues with people?
The pandemic has impacted people who were already using and those who hadn’t been misusing drugs and alcohol prior to it. Many factors may have contributed to worsening a substance use disorder or creating a new one. They include isolation, drastic changes in daily routine, limited opportunities for physical activity, and financial stress.
Without treatment and support for the last year or more, even someone who was sober when the pandemic started could be living with a lasting substance use disorder. They may have been living alone with their drinking or drug habits not seen by family members or friends. If they were aware of a problem with their substance use, they may have not known how to begin recovery in isolation.
Fear over staying safe while in public deterred many people from seeking treatment as well. They may have felt the risk was too high to begin residential treatment for an SUD. While virtual treatment options have been available, some people may prefer traditional outpatient programs where they’re working on recovery in person and with peers.
What to look for now that you can be around people again?
Reconnecting with loved ones in person is a first step in checking on their well-being. They have been able to mask substance use behind closed doors. Now, you have an opportunity to visit and observe how they have been impacted by the pandemic overall and by drug use or drinking specifically.
Physical signs can reveal someone you know has developed an SUD. Those signs could be changes in weight, poor personal hygiene, and loss of physical coordination. Some behavior signs of an SUD could show up as new financial issues, legal issues, and repeated lying or deceitful acts to cover their substance use. Potential psychological signs are another area to check for in your loved ones. These signs can consist of sudden mood swings, depression, or obsessive thoughts.
If you identify any potential substance use issues in a family member or close friend, it’s important to help them see treatment as a critical next step. Educating yourself about what options are available can help you have a conversation with them about what to do. For people with a substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorder, dual diagnosis treatment is recommended.
Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.