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cycle of addiction
September 18, 2020

How COVID-19 Worsens the Vicious Cycle of Addiction

Pinpointing the underlying issues behind substance use is often one of the most challenging parts of early addiction treatment. Nobody chooses to become dependent on drugs or alcohol; instead, a complex interplay of biological and environmental influences can lead to someone becoming trapped in the cycle of addiction over time. 

Addiction has been a national health crisis for years. Now, many experts are predicting that the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are causing an increase in drug and alcohol abuse. Let’s look at some reasons COVID-19 is worsening the cycle of addiction nationwide.

1. Increased Stress

Though this is a misguided coping mechanism, many people use drugs and alcohol as a “release valve” when life becomes too overwhelming. Due to the pandemic, chronic stress has become a fact of life for many people. If the virus has left you unemployed, or shouldering new responsibilities like homeschooling your children, you might be drinking or using drugs more to help self-medicate under the weight of stress.

2. Feelings of Isolation

It’s been approximately six months since schools, restaurants and attractions around the U.S. closed and many local and state governments issued shelter-in-place orders to curb the rapid spread of the virus. 

While many businesses have been able to open with new safety measures in place, staying home and leaving only for essential reasons is still the best way to flatten the curve and avoid spreading illness. As a result, you may have had to cancel social activities and avoid seeing your friends and family for months. Loneliness can severely affect your health, and can also trigger or aggravate addictions.

3. Fears About the Virus

In the U.S., the CDC has reported more than 6.5 million cases of COVID-19, and nearly 200,000 people have died from the disease. Thousands of others have recovered, only to struggle with a bewildering array of long-term health symptoms such as neurological problems, heart and lung issues and extreme fatigue. 

It’s natural to worry about ways to keep yourself, your family and vulnerable members of your community safe from this deadly and disabling illness, but constant fears could be exacerbating existing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Since co-occurring mental health disorders and addiction go hand in hand, worsening well-being might cause you to fall deeper into the cycle of addiction.

4. Loss of Normalcy

In the early days of the pandemic, many Americans assumed the virus would be under control by the time the weather got warmer. However, with no national strategy for consistent testing, contact tracing and continued lockdowns, COVID-19 has continued to spiral out of control. With the official first day of fall just around the corner, many doctors and health experts have warned that the overlap of COVID-19 and flu season could cause a larger, second wave of illness and death. 

This version of the coronavirus is still so new to us that uncertainty seems to be the only sure thing about it. Our “new normal” involves social distancing, wearing masks, frequent handwashing and limited opportunities to travel, and until scientists discover a viable vaccine, there’s no end in sight. If you’re mourning what you’ve lost and craving a return to the status quo, drugs or alcohol could seem like a tempting way to temporarily fill the void.

5. Less Access to Resources

COVID-19 has shone a bright spotlight on the flaws and inequities that have plagued our civic infrastructure behind the scenes for decades. Social services for addiction — which often already lack adequate funding and government support — have been among the many organizations to struggle in the wake of the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis. Insufficient access to treatment options can contribute to drug abuse and make people feel like they must find their way out of the vicious cycle of addiction on their own.

Seek Freedom and Safety at Beach House

At Beach House, we have implemented an aggressive COVID-19 response plan that has allowed us to remain open to serve clients throughout this pandemic, ensuring our entire five-acre campus remains COVID-19 symptom-free. In keeping with our goal of providing a welcoming haven where people can fully focus on their health, these safety measures have made Beach House one of the cleanest treatment facilities in the country. 

Don’t let worries about the coronavirus hold you back from getting help when you need it. Contact us today to speak to our helpful admissions counselors.

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