In 2019, nearly 72,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this was a 5% increase from 2018, which had seen drug overdose deaths fall for the first time in 25 years. In 2020, the amount of deaths is expected to be higher. As of July 15, 2020, "drug deaths have risen an average of 13 percent" year over year, according to data collected by The New York Times. The significant increase in deaths can be attributed in large part to the COVID-19 global pandemic and the effects it's had on those with a mental illness or substance abuse disorder.
The Huffington Post recently published an article highlighting the increased risk of mortality for those suffering from addiction. The article attributes this increased risk to lack of "socialization, routine and access to care". Below we expand on other factors that may be responsible for the increase in overdose deaths and provide some resources for seeking help during this difficult time.
As the threat of COVID-19 became more imminent, stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions were imposed throughout the country. As a result, millions of people found themselves alone at home, isolated from friends and family. For recovering addicts, this may have affected their ability to see their loved ones or attend in-person support groups to help overcome their addiction. Without the support they had grown accustomed to, feelings of isolation are likely to have increased and could result in a relapse.To combat the feelings of isolation, we recommend individuals stay in communication with their support system. Whether that's by text message, phone calls or video conferencing, regular contact with loved ones can be a huge help to staying on track with sobriety. Additionally, online support groups are available during this time. For an up-to-date list of online meetings that can be accessed from home, visit Central Texas Area Narcotics Anonymous or Austin Alcoholics Anonymous.
As a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, U.S. unemployment rates were the highest they've been in 70 years. In April, 14.7% of Americans were jobless and while that number slightly decreased to 11.1% in June, millions of Americans remain unemployed. Without a job, those suffering from substance abuse may have lost the routine that incentivized them to get out of bed every morning. Additionally, they may have lost their main source of income. With dwindling finances and bills still due, drug use may have increased as a way to cope.
For over 5 months, the United States has continued to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While the resulting self-isolation and unemployment may have been originally believed to be temporary, the long-term effects are beginning to be more visible. Without access to loved ones, a job, or activities to do, many find themselves bored at home. With a lack of routine and increased boredom, a recovering addict may find themselves resorting to alcohol or drugs more frequently, increasing the risk of an overdose. The Last Resort Recovery recommends establishing and maintaining a routine to provide structure to one's day. Consider experimenting with new activities or hobbies you can do from the comfort of your own home. Activities, such as yoga or at-home workouts, can be found for free on YouTube and promote mental and physical well-being that can help prevent a relapse.
Maintaining sobriety is a difficult task in and of its own. With a global pandemic affecting our everyday lives, sobriety can be even more difficult to maintain. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, know that help is available. Our recent blog has tips and resources for maintaining sobriety during a crisis. For additional resources in your area, contact our 24/7 Addiction Helpline to speak to someone who can help point you or your loved one in the right direction. To learn more about our men's rehab center and addiction treatment programs, contact us online today.