Based on recent surveys and news reports, experts are sharing that addictive behavior has increased since the onset of the pandemic from March until now.
There is help out there.
According to Betterhelp, the leading online therapy platform:
“Including exercise into your routine, especially if you have a very fast-paced and busy schedule, may seem tedious, but its physical and mental benefits should never be underestimated. Getting into the routine of exercising regularly will make it much easier, though, and you should see improvements in no time.”
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While no one is suggesting that awareness is a magic bullet that cures all ills, lack of awareness definitely makes things worse for any number of reasons including the following:
- Those at high risk of substance overdose may feel more isolated and cut off from resources that can help them.
- Lack of awareness leads to lack of funding for necessary resources.
- When there is no awareness of the real problem, people at risk of overdose might be misdiagnosed or go untreated altogether.
More awareness can only lead to good things for people who suffer. Substance use disorder should be treated not punished. More awareness means more treatment for the people who need it.
Think of an economic micro depression as the opposite of the Great Depression. Instead of affecting the entire economy of a nation, it devastates the economy of individuals one at a time. The pandemic has caused countless micro depressions all over the U.S.
In March, people were sent home from work without pay. ScienceDirect explains how economic recessions and unemployment affect illegal drug use. According to the authors,
We synthesized 28 studies published between 1990 and 2015. Most evidence (17 studies) was found for the counter-cyclical mechanism that recessions and unemployment increase psychological distress, which increases drug use.
As economic pressure presses down, depression and addiction rises. These inverse forces are inevitable and cannot be wished away. The only way forward is through addiction treatment.
**Uncertainty Breeds Anxiety
Drug usage is often a response to anxiety. The embers of anxiety are faded by the shifting winds of uncertainty. One of the jobs of a leader is to reassure the people that the problem is understood, a plan is in place, and with grit and determination, we will all make it through to the other side stronger and more united.
Instead of that message, we have received something rather more mixed. Instead of reassurance and a plan, we have waffling and confusion. Instead of forging unity, we are tribalized, polarized, and weaponized against each other. This is not the way forward. It is the way deeper into fear and anxiety.
Despite these negative realities, there is always hope for a better and brighter future. It starts with asking for and accepting help from the people who love you without judgement. From there it is a matter of medical science and human connection. As long as you don’t give up on yourself, treatment facilities are here to help, and are always only ever one call away.