The Impact of COVID-19 on Substance Use

Covid-19 and substance use

The Impact of COVID-19 on Substance Use

Substance abuse disorders have been on a consistent rise over the last decade. However, with the stressful onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in drug related deaths and overdoses. Researchers are now sounding the alarm; highlighting the impact the virus has had on those struggling with substance abuse and those in recovery.

Who Is Impacted By The Pandemic

Since the pandemic began, public health officials have noted increased reports of mental distress for many populations, including individuals with no history of mental illness, younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) complied research that found more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in 2020 and more than 94,000 drug overdoses occurred the following year.

Challenges During COVID-19 Increase Chances Of Relapse

Many of the same interventions that reduced the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 posed a challenge for those struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders. Group oriented treatment programs have long been one of the tools used to help those in recovery. However, with the elimination of group meetings or the switch to virtual formats, many of those in recovery struggled with feelings of isolation. These issues, partnered with other pandemic-related challenges, such as job loss and physical health concerns, put them at significant risk for relapse, overdose or drug related death.

How To Reduce Risk Of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

Now as vaccines and other inventions have become available to manage the spread of COVID-19, it is important for those struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders to recognize that positive coping strategies and virtual recovery resources can reduce the impact of stress and fear and alleviate anxiety, depression, and other difficult emotions.

Recovery Is Possible

CHRIS 180 is here to help. If you find that you or a loved one are in need of that community look into finding a meeting, a therapist, or treatment learn more about our no cost program, TREE House. The program, funded by the Substance and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMSHA) offers outpatient counseling and support for youth & young adults, ages 13-24, their families and several support services. If you are out of the age range for TREE House, other CHRIS 180 counseling programs also offer addiction counseling and support. Email [email protected] for more information.

Give yourself space and permission to seek support or help regardless of what stage of recovery you are in. Finding a community, especially in times of uncertainty can save your life and put you on the path to health.




Devin Mathews M.S., APC, NCC Mental Health Therapist is in CHRIS 180’s TREE House Program. For more information, email [email protected] or call 404-636-1457.

Devin Mathews
[email protected]
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