Drug and Alcohol

5 Surprising Ways COVID-19 Affected Drug And Alcohol Addiction … And Treatment


COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with stress and uncertainty. Learn more with The Edge Treatment Center!

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect individuals’ social life, dictating one’s regular daily routines and social outlets. Staying inside and coping with the social and political implications of the virus is incredibly stressful.

However, the effects of COVID-19 stretch far beyond just how much an individual can go out or meet up with friends. It also has an incredible impact on one’s need for coping with stress and has compromised many people’s usual strategies. One of the effects that COVID-19 has had on daily life is increased alcohol and substance abuse nationwide. 

The Development of Addiction

Substance use disorder can affect anyone. There is no social class, education, race, sex, or age immune to the disease. Likewise, stress and change can be major contributing factors when it comes to the use of drugs or alcohol as an individual looks for a release of pent-up feelings. The exact ways that COVID-19 has contributed to the development of substance abuse or even addiction is the combination of a few different factors. 

A Fundamental Change in Lifestyle

Change always comes with a degree of uncertainty. Not only were people forced to change their daily routines, but much of one’s personal and professional life has had to adapt to meet new social distancing guidelines and other safety measures due to the virus. Being unable to meet with friends or go out without worrying about the risk of infection can cause an individual to stay indoors.

Similarly, workplace precautions, up to and including moving to a wholly remote setting, can fundamentally change how an individual approaches their daily routine. These new routines birthed out of a feeling of danger have been a significant source of anxiety to many. This anxiety has a high potential to bring about the need to release stress and fear, and alcohol and drugs are a quick and easily accessible way to alleviate these feelings, despite the otherwise destructive effects. 

Removing Regular Stress Outlets

COVID-19 has also compromised many regular social outlets for stress relief. An individual may have treated themselves to “retail therapy” or played in a sports league alongside friends. However, these regular outlets have been compromised due to the need to remain socially distanced. Going to the gym, meeting with friends for a night out, concerts and events, and many other social, public events have been largely canceled or made more difficult because of the myriad of necessary precautions. As a result, an individual may find themselves unable to engage in their regular stress outlets and end up feeling isolated and without a way to process negative feelings. 

The inaccessibility to regular outlets can cause an individual to turn to another accessible option, with drugs and alcohol being a common way to appease these stresses. Feeling stuck inside all the time can lead to the more regular use of addictive substances because the need to moderate their use as one would in a more public setting is removed. 

COVID-19 Compromising Vacations

The pandemic has also led to an inability to take vacations. Vacations are essential for one’s mental health, providing individuals with a chance to distance themselves from their personal and professional lives and recuperate both mentally and physically from the stresses of their routine. Especially with the increased hours of many professions, such as nurses, mail sorters, or other essential workers, it can be increasingly difficult to allow oneself to take a vacation as one’s shifts may not be covered, or employers may continue to frown upon losing such essential help. 

However, as travel has become more difficult and work-life more stressful, the need for vacations has not in any way decreased. Instead, these stresses and travel restrictions further accentuate the feeling of claustrophobia that comes with social isolation and the walls of one’s own home. In some cases, this works to further promote the use of addictive substances in one’s home as a kind of “relaxation.” 

The Uncertainty of a Timeline

Lastly, COVID-19 continues to be ongoing, and there appears to be no quick end in sight. While coping with uncertainty and worrying about the spread of the virus is stressful, its difficulty is greatly amplified because there seems to be no clear answer as to when restrictions will lift or when it will be safe to go out without risk. This constant doubt in one’s head can be incredibly emotionally taxing. While the body is programmed to take measures when one’s safety is at risk, this state of mind is not designed to be sustainable for an indefinite amount of time. Prolonged uncertainty can give way to further feelings of anxiety, depression, and doubt that continue to inform one’s decisions. 

Drugs And Alcohol: Coping Mechanisms Which Only Make Things Worse

The prospect of suppressing one’s thoughts, doubts, and emotions can be tempting. Drugs and alcohol can be an easy place to turn to cope with the endless stream of changes and worries brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  COVID-19 continues to affect daily life and has impacted the use of drugs and alcohol significantly. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction due to the unique stress of the pandemic and is ready to take the first step towards sobriety, The Edge Treatment Center is here to help. We understand how difficult it is to manage the constant changes and stresses caused by COVID-19 and are prepared to meet you wherever you are in your addiction recovery. For more information, call us today.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

January 13, 2022