It was just over one year ago that the coronavirus was labeled as a global pandemic. In that time, COVID-19 has blazed a terrifying path through the countries of the world, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
As of this writing to date, 120 million individuals worldwide have been infected with COVID-19 with 2.66 million people losing their lives. In the United States, there have been 29.5 million cases and over 535,000 Americans have lost their lives.
Here in the United States, the economy has been impacted, as record numbers of Americans are out of work, filing for unemployment, and struggling to pay their bills and feed their families. Foodbanks have sprung up in communities throughout the country, and the Federal Government has just passed The American Rescue Plan, the government’s third COVID-19 relief plan since the pandemic began.
The pandemic has not simply decimated Americans medically or financially. One of the largest impacts of the pandemic is its effect on the mental health of Americans. Mental illness and mental health issues, thoughts of suicide, panic disorder, addiction, and substance use disorders have all risen to epidemic proportions during COVID-19, and the country was already dealing with an addiction and mental health crisis before the pandemic began.
Impacts of Coronavirus on the Mental Health of Americans:
Drug Overdose Deaths
Drug overdose deaths accelerated during COVID-19. A recent CDC report stated that over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12-month period ending in May 2020 (the last available data.) That was the highest number of drug overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period. In December 2020, more than 40 states have seen increased in opioid-related mortality.
Suicidal ideations and thoughts of suicide are on the rise. During the pandemic, 11% of people surveyed reported having a suicidal thought in the previous 30 days, which compares to only 4% of adults reporting similar suicidal ideations within the previous 12 months when surveyed in 2018.
Overall Mental Health
The fear and disruption of COVID-19 has globally impacted the mental health of individuals. The pandemic has caused an increase in anxiety, depression, stress, panic disorders and PTSD. Isolation due to social distancing and quarantine measures, necessary to address the public health needs during the pandemic, is further exacerbating these mental health issues and concerns.
Substance Use Disorder
Addiction, substance misuse, and substance use disorders are always negative coping mechanisms for individuals. During the coronavirus pandemic, as people are isolated and afraid, it would make sense that in order to cope with stress, many individuals will turn to substances. According to the CDC, as of June 202-, 13% of Americans reported starting or increase substance use as a way of coping with the stress or emotions related to COVID-19.
Stress on the Healthcare System
Throughout the pandemic, hospital emergency departments have struggled with the spike in addiction and mental health issues, as well as the overwhelming amount of drug overdoses. While many people avoided hospital and emergency rooms during COVID-19 for fear of the coronavirus (emergency department visits dropped by more than 40% during COVID-19), researchers at the CDC found that patients with drug-related and mental health issues kept coming, a problem made worse by emergency departments not being well staffed or trained to help patients presenting with these types of behavioral health conditions.
As we hopefully come to a light at the end of the tunnel dealing with COVID-19, with vaccine production and distribution ramping up throughout the country, the addiction and mental health crises made worse during COVID-19 will undoubtedly remain. Individuals suffering from addiction and mental health will need more resources than ever. One day soon, COVID-19 will be part of our daily lives, managed as we do during flu season, but we must take extreme measures to ensure that the addiction and mental health issues that have skyrocketed during the pandemic are addressed and treated so that those individuals and families can maintain happy healthy lives.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our website at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.