Social Distancing, Isolation, and Addiction
We have been on varying levels of shutdown in the USA due to COVID-19 since March, and the weight of these shutdowns is not only weighing on our economy and the education of our children but for countless men, it has resulted in domestic abuse and addiction relapse. At some point, the government must weigh the cost of countless lives lost in the wake of these shutdowns.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, spikes in drug and alcohol abuse use have been recorded since March. In late April/early May, the Addiction Policy Forum (APF) conducted a survey of 1,079 people with addictions nationwide on how they were being impacted by the pandemic. Twenty percent of the respondents reported that their own or a family member’s substance use had increased since the social isolation was put in place.
Three-quarters of the APF survey respondents reported emotional changes since the beginning of the pandemic, especially increased worry (62%), sadness (51%), fear (51%), and loneliness (42%). These emotions increase the risk for relapse and unfortunately circumstances since the pandemic has made peer support, for instance in 12-step meetings and similar groups, much more difficult.
An analysis of a nationwide sample of 500,000 urine drug test results conducted by Millenium Health also showed steep increases for cocaine (10% increase), heroin (13% increase), methamphetamine (20% increase), and non-prescribed fentanyl (32% increase).