Covid-19 and substance use

All information utilized from this page came from The Recovery Village- Resources for Substance Abuse Treatment During Coronavirus (COVID-19). (2020). The Recovery Village.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus and is a form of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). If infected with COVID-19, a person will typically develop symptoms 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection. If you suspect to have come into someone infected with COVID-19, quarantine for 14 days.

Emergency Symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

COVID-19 and Substance Use in the United States

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of United States adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use as well as 13% stating an increased amount of substance use.  Alcohol sales in the United States have gone up 250% during the pandemic.

Substance use relation in the united states during COVID-19

The chart above shows that 52% of individuals living in the United States attributed increased substance use to stress while 37% listed boredom and 33% selected anxiety/depression.

Substance of choice in the united states during COVID-19

Among those living in the United States during the pandemic, 89% listed alcohol as a substance of choice.

COVID-19 and Substance Use in Illinois

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 2,427 opioid overdoses deaths in Illinois in 2016 alone. Since the global pandemic, in Chicago opioid-related police calls have increased 75% while opioid-related deaths have increased 25%. In the state of Illinois, there has been a 62% increase in substance use. In those aged 18-24 there was 88% increase in substance use since the pandemic began.

What Does This Mean?

These statistics indicate that many individuals could be turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism during these difficult times created by COVID-19. Using drugs or alcohol to cope with barriers can become a habit that risks becoming a substance use disorder. When a person uses drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate and cope with a mental health disorder, co-occurring substance use disorders can develop.

What Can You Do?

Practicing self-care is crucial to implementing healthy coping mechanisms for not just yourself, but also friends and family. Eat healthy, exercise, meditate, read a book, anything that can provide an outlet. Recovery and support groups have moved meetings to online platforms, and telehealth services as well!

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