Increased Drug and Alcohol Use during the Stay at Home Order

By Eleanor Kim

The Coronavirus pandemic has left the whole world isolated with very little to do aside from school or work. As the stay at home orders continue, individuals have been forced to find other means of coping or simply passing the time. Some individuals have found coping mechanisms that have ignited newfound purpose during such bleak times; however, others have embarked on less than beneficial pastimes, turning to drugs and alcohol as a means of “getting through” the pandemic. Cases of substance use disorder, or SUD, have skyrocketed since the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic with cases of patients who have experienced overdoses and other complications related to substance abuse increasing as well. In a recent survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 13.3% of respondents stated that they have either started or increased substance use in order to cope with the stress and emotions caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent national emergency. With the world in such an unstable and worrisome state, it is not surprising to see individuals seek comfort in any way that they can, especially as those individuals face new and or preexisting stressors and anxieties through isolation.

As the pandemic continues, the surging mental health and substance abuse epidemics have shown to go hand in hand with one another. In fact, throughout the pandemic, there has been a 62% increase in worry, a 51% increase in sadness, a 51% increase in fear, and a 42% increase in loneliness. It was also revealed that within the past year, there has been a 32% increase for non-prescribed fentanyl, a 20% increase for methamphetamine, a 12.5% increase for heroine, a 10% increase for cocaine, as well as an 18% increase in suspected drug overdoses. These increases have not gone unnoticed. Those that already struggled with substance abuse or other mental health disorders have found stay at home orders increasingly difficult given the limited access to their usual treatment and support groups. Those who wish to begin receiving professional help with their substance use have had harder times finding adequate care given the decrease in in- and out-patient support and treatment over the past year. These limitations have fed into the increases in mental health struggles and SUD cases, leaving those who have been affected feeling desperate and out of control.

Substance abuse is not the answer to these difficult and isolating times. There is still hope for those who wish to seek other, more benevolent means of coping with the pandemic and for those who wish to begin treatment for their substance use disorder. Telehealth is one way that individuals with SUD, or other destructive coping mechanisms, can begin receiving professional help and therapy. Counselors and therapists are available to talk with you or anyone you know who may be dealing with substance use disorders during this time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Resources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/09/addressing-unique-challenges-covid-19-people-in-recovery

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7219362/

https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21139889/drug-abuse-on-the-rise-because-of-the-coronavirus

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm

Image Source:

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/covid-crisis-exacerbating-lgbtq-alcohol-abuse-studies-find-n1257008

The Opioid Epidemic: How to Spot the Difference Between an Addiction and Physical Dependency

The Opioid Epidemic: How to Spot the Difference Between an Addiction and Physical Dependency

By Crystal Tsui

In a paper written by Turner et. Al (2017), Opioid Use Disorder: Challenges During Acute Hospitalization, discussed the difference between drug addiction and physical dependency. Addiction is described as a disease. It occurs when a drug produces chemical changes in the brain that enforces the medication to be more desirable. When a person is addicted to a certain drug, they start to build a higher tolerance meaning that they would not feel the effects of the drug with the same dosage. This would make them want to increase the dosage each time just to experience the same effect, which can be dangerous and lead to an overdose. The 4 C’s are the beginning signs of addiction. They are:

  • Craving
  • (loss of) Control
  • Compulsion
  • (using despite) Consequences

A few physical signs of substance abuse includes:

  • Track marks
  • Abscesses
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Blood in their vomit
  • Chronic cough

There are 3 types of opioid consumers we should be aware of; these include patients with chronic pain, patients who are on medication-assisted treatment and stable, and those who are self-medicating. If you or anyone you know has an opioid addiction, they should be met with warmth and compassion. A caring individual, like you, can help an addict seek the help they need, such as medication–assisted treatment or detoxification.

Individuals who are physically dependent on opioids are a different story. They are usually patients with chronic pain and have become dependent on opioids to relieve pain. However, they don’t feel the desire to take the medication for any purpose other than to relieve their pain. They wouldn’t feel the need to have their dosages increased constantly because the dosage of opioids does not change the effects of relieving pain.

This article is to help define the difference between an addiction and being physically dependent on opioids. This is not an exhaustive list.

If you or someone you know has a drug addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Citations:

https://www.rivermendhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/opioid-epidemic.png

Opioid Use Disorder: Challenges During Acute Hospitalization, Turner et al. (2017).