COVID-19 stress challenges those struggling with addiction, mental illness

More than six months into the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to impact day-to-day life. The stress can be overwhelming, and those with alcohol and drug addiction can be particularly vulnerable.

The cumulative effects of the pandemic – isolation, stress - can be especially hard for people battling addiction.

“I think that one of the advantages and disadvantages of this isolation and being in the home is that people were able to hide some of this… now they can’t,” said Dr. Marvin Seppala, Chief Medical Officer at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Dr. Seppala said he’s seeing an uptick in people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.

“The numbers dropped significantly when the isolation was forced upon us initially. Now they’ve been coming back up, but we’re assuming when this is over, we’re going to have a huge amount of backlog of people just waiting to get into treatment.”

Job loss and uncertainty are among the stressors fueling depression and anxiety, while taking a toll on mental health and families.

“People are reluctant to seek treatment in the first place, so what we’re seeing is they’re getting remarkably worse before they do start to look into treatment.”

The pandemic is also putting sobriety at risk.

“If you’re really struggling, consider getting an evaluation, and with that, a plan from an expert on addiction on what to do.”

For more information on addiction treatmentat the Hazelden Better Ford Foundation, click here.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)