Rising Substance Abuse during the Coronavirus Pandemic and the Heroes battling on the Frontlines

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Shlomo Hoffman
Apr 01, 2020

As many in the substance abuse treatment community have feared, the coronavirus outbreak has caused a ripple effect on relapse rates. Although hard data is difficult to gather in real time, people in the field are beginning to report increased relapse rates.

Rising alcohol consumption

Additional cause for concern is skyrocketing alcohol consumption all over the country. In the week ending on March 21, research firm Nielsen reported a surge of over 55% in alcohol sales in the United States. Even pre-coronavirus, booze is one of the biggest culprits in causing addiction. Heightened levels of anxiety and loneliness during this crisis has made it significantly worse.

Financial upheaval

Financial uncertainty has long been associated with substance abuse. As the outbreak forces employers to slash payrolls and lay off thousands of workers, the risks of addiction and relapse grows in kind. People are driven to take off the “edge” and are vulnerable to bad decision-making.

Treatment Access

Access to drug and alcohol treatment facilities during the coronavirus pandemic has become more difficult. It is tough to leave home. The fear of getting treatment is difficult in the best of times and only exacerbated in the current situation.

Positive Physical Contact

The epidemic has highlighted what we have for so long taken for granted. One of the biggest contributors to mental wellness is positive human contact. Hugging a friend, crying on a supportive shoulder, and face to face motivation are pillars of recovery. When we are separated from each other we cannot take advantage of these basic tools of support and motivation.

We can all be Heroes

People are resilient. Through all this duress we are hearing stories of the addiction treatment industry rising to the occasion. Clients are not being forgotten. The recovery community is not being forgotten.

Addiction Treatment Facility Staff Members

On-site staff are pushing the boundaries of dedication. Counselors, therapists, and medical professionals are showing up for work and saving lives. Under the strain they are showing us what it means to be heroes. They are serving on the frontlines and doing it with dignity, strength, and compassion.

Heroes in Recovery

And the people in or entering recovery. They are discovering places in themselves they never knew existed. They are showing us what’s possible when there is a commitment to healing and growth.  Online meetings are full and creative support systems are blossoming everywhere. Many who have more downtime are using it wisely. Mindfulness techniques, strengthening their sense of a higher power, and caring for those less fortunate are all making them be the best versions of themselves.  

Staying Together

A sense of unity has formed. We are all in this together and the only way we will overcome this is by staying together. Continue to reach out to friends or family who may be in danger. Show them you are here for them, thinking about them, and loving them. Encourage those struggling with substance abuse and addiction to use the time to get help.

The best version of humanity is one where everybody has each other’s back.

The recovery community is teaching the rest of the world how it’s done. It is an inspiration.  

Since joining the Avenues Recovery content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. His popular addiction podcast "Rubber Bands" is a must listen for anyone involved in Substance abuse treatment. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.

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