The onset of the coronavirus pandemic unleashed an addiction situation we hadn’t experienced before. As governments around the globe imposed regulations to contain the spread of this deadly virus, their efforts marked the beginning of a full-blown addiction pandemic that has made the situation more challenging.
Two years later, countries have two pandemics on their hands to tackle: addiction and covid.
Addiction Statistics Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
As Covid intensified, governments had no choice other than to enforce stay-at-home orders. We witnessed the closure of bars, restaurants, and entertainment joints. Public gatherings were halted for an undefined period. Workplace dynamics changed, with employees instructed to work from their homes.
Let’s not forget the thousands of people who’ve lost their jobs as a result of these restrictions and are struggling to meet their basic needs.
Many people are struggling with long periods of boredom and loneliness. High stress and anxiety levels are part of daily life for most individuals. Finding a coping mechanism seems like the ultimate solution to these struggles.
People have turned to substance use as their way of coping, fuelling a spike in addiction-related problems.
It’s now close to two years since the start of the Covid pandemic. Meaning, people who started misusing drugs as soon as the virus struck are currently facing severe addiction problems.
Covid restrictions led to people overindulging in drugs.
The ravaging virus has overshadowed efforts to control the addiction pandemic. As public health officials channel most of their time and effort towards containing the virus, overdose and deaths arising from addiction problems have, sadly, fallen off the radar.
According to reports by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), close to 276, 000 people in the UK had entered treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse between April 2020 and March last year (2021).
Cases of opiate addiction, alcohol addiction, and the misuse of non-opiate substances such as cocaine, cannabis, benzodiazepines, and amphetamines have steadily risen following the covid restrictions.
According to a breakdown of the drugs and substances that saw people enter addiction treatment between 2020 and 2021, released by the British Government, nearly 75,000 citizens have used both opiates and crack cocaine during the pandemic. Even more have reported to having used opiates but without crack cocaine.
Those with existing substance abuse disorders have it rough. Banning gatherings meant the disruptions of recovery group meetings.
As much as most of these meetings are now held online, the power of recovery meetings lies with in-person accountability. People trying to overcome addiction are now relapsing as they spend a lot of time alone.
Addiction and relapse thrive in secrecy— the exact environment created by Covid restrictions.
The Office for National Statistics revealed these worrying statistics:
- In 2020 alone, alcohol-related deaths in the UK were up by nearly 19%. This figure was the highest ever recorded since OHS began collecting data on alcohol-related deaths in 2001.
- In England alone, OHS pointed out a 59% increase in the number of people who consumed alcohol at high-risk levels ever since covid restrictions were put in place.
- Men and women consumed 50 units and 35 units of alcohol weekly, respectively. This alcohol intake goes beyond the UK government’s guidelines of 14 units as the maximum alcohol units that adults in the UK should have per week.
- Despite their closure, there’s been a dramatic increase in alcohol sales by pubs and restaurants. Covid restrictions have seen many take full advantage of home deliveries.
Addiction specialists from the Royal College of Psychiatrists agree that there’s an overwhelming demand for addiction treatment services. There’s a high possibility that most addiction treatment facilities now are running at full capacity compared to the time when Covid hadn’t struck.
Many people are in dire need of life-saving addiction treatment care because the Covid restrictions have escalated the severity of people’s addictions.
There’s a high chance that substance and alcohol-related deaths will soar exponentially as long as the virus is still here with us. Public Health England (PHE) predicts that the current addiction crisis will adversely affect the nation’s health in the coming years.
There’ll be more cases of heart attacks, liver diseases, depression, strokes, stomach ulcers and pancreatitis, and more addiction-related death cases in the years to come due to the growing substance abuse during the Covid pandemic. The state of the nation’s public health will be saddening.
As more reports continue being released, we will see the real impact of Covid restrictions on the nation’s addiction problem.
The Addiction Crisis Is a Pandemic of Its Own
We’re currently witnessing not one, but two pandemics — Covid and addiction. As Covid forced lockdowns, the addiction crisis only worsened.
Covid restrictions paved the way for stress, loneliness, hardships, grief and anxiety, all of which trigger addiction and relapse incidents.
Seeking addiction recovery services will help many end their painful addiction journeys amidst the Covid pandemic.