The Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health and Substance Use
The rising rates of substance use and overdose throughout the U.S. are linked to many different factors. Perhaps the largest factor is the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on mental health. It’s caused many Americans to struggle with financial instability, isolation and general uncertainty, all of which have led to feelings of anxiety, stress and depression. In turn, more and more people are using drugs or alcohol to cope with mental health concerns, which creates a higher risk for addiction.
Experts are also seeing higher rates of relapse among people in recovery, which may be caused by a lack of in-person support, unemployment, increased free time, boredom, stress and similar factors. Unemployment alone can have a huge influence: Unemployed people are 87% more likely to drink heavily and 65% more likely to use illicit drugs. Additionally, an analysis of urine tests between March and May found a 32% increase in illicit fentanyl use, a 20% increase in meth use and a 10% increase in cocaine use.
While it’s important to combat the pandemic through measures like social distancing and mask mandates, the nation’s mental health must also be addressed. Florida and many other parts of the country have been in an opioid epidemic for years, and the nation may soon find itself in a storm of three major crises: addiction, mental health and COVID-19.