Tragedy and Transition
When we examine COVID-19, it is easy to look at the tragedy that has befallen our country. We lost many lives, more than 60,000 at his point, and over a million suffered infection. Our nation essentially shut down as the Coronavirus ravaged our ill-prepared healthcare industry.
As we start to pick up the pieces and move forward, it is essential to realize that there are going to be some challenges ahead. As individuals everywhere begin to cope with loss, there will undoubtedly be a need for services focusing on mental health, specifically substance abuse.
The transitional phase of COVID-19 is starting, and as states begin to lift restrictions, it is vital to pay close attention to how things unfold. Many under stay at home orders found themselves indulging in the use of drugs and alcohol more regularly than usual. Alcohol sales are up 55% compared to this time last year, while isolation and social distancing put many people struggling with addiction at risk during this pandemic. With this in mind, it is safe to assume that there will be an increased need for resources in regard to substance abuse and addiction recovery.
Unfortunately, we will not know the extent of this need until individuals start leaving isolation. Sometimes addictive and self-destructive behavior is hard for individuals to recognize for themselves. Things gradually become unhealthy and reckless behavior continues until there is some outside intervention. It may come in the form of a concerned love one or friend. Or it could manifest itself in something more serious like a DUI or car accident. Regardless of how it becomes evident, the need for change is usually from an exterior force.
That puts our nation in a precarious situation. Especially since so many individuals will be looking to get back to work and start handling the things that may have led to them going off the rails. It’s ironic because the COVID-19 pandemic created a set of factors that made it possible for individuals who were struggling with substance abuse to get help. You see, when individuals struggle with addiction, there is usually a long list of excuses as to why it is not the right time to seek treatment. Work and other social responsibilities make up the majority of this list, but the Coronavirus effectively took these excuses off the table.
A Missed Opportunity
The bad thing is that these same factors were also able to breed destructive behavior. Instead of using the runway created by COVID-19 to get help, many Americans utilized it as a chute to a downward spiral. As a nation, we will undoubtedly have people in need of help, but if history holds true, the majority of these individuals will refuse to get it. Many will more than likely site the obligation to provide for their family is paramount to their well-being. Doing so illustrates their lack of understanding of the cycle of substance abuse and the long-term effects of addiction.
What can be done?
As a nation, we can band together like we did to flatten the curve of COVID-19. The social-responsibility and personal accountability experienced during this pandemic were unprecedented, and it shouldn’t fall to the wayside. We would not accept if someone with COVID-19 were walking around in public putting others at risk and should have the same sense of compassion when it comes to those struggling with substance abuse. If we make it a point to help our friends and family seek help during this time, we could effectively create a tremendous impact on a long-standing epidemic that has plagued our society much longer than the Coronavirus.
It may not be easy, but neither was the sacrifices we made for the past three months. As our nation aims to return to normal, we need to realize that certain things should never go back to the way they were. How our country handles substance abuse and addiction recovery is one of them. We are on the verge of successfully combatting a worldwide pandemic. If we stay united and collectively shift our focus, the nationwide drug epidemic could be next.