Name: Chantelle Mahealani Aldan
From: DuPont, WA
2020: A Global Pandemic Within a National Pandemic
Twenty-twenty has continued to shock millions of individuals around the world with its inevitable turn of events. From the global pandemic of COVID-19 causing widespread shutdowns, forcing thousands of unemployed citizens and their families to shelter-in-place in their own homes; countless Black Lives Matter protests and riots resulting from wrongful deaths of American citizens at the hands of our nations Police Departments; to countless natural disasters sweeping the nation forcing residents to evacuate and seek shelter miles away from their homes; twenty-twenty has had a plethora of pandemics. While normalizing the destruction of COVID-19, protesting, rioting, an increase in unemployment, homelessness, natural disasters, etc., the United States still has a large issue at hand that seems to have been forgotten; substance abuse and addiction.
Substance abuse and addiction has been an ongoing issue within the United States as addictive products and prescriptions have become easily accessible via propaganda. Alcohol and substance abuse has resulted in over 700,000 deaths in the United States since the early 2000’s (National Center of Drug Abuse and Statistics, 2019). Common causes for addiction often come from the environment an individual is brought up in, for instance a chaotic and abusive household or parental and social influences involving drug use. In 2018, according to the National Center of Drug Abuse Statistics, 165 million individuals over the age of twelve years old are currently using addictive substances along with tobacco and alcohol.
Substance abusers are often left with a compromised immune system, leaving them more susceptible to respiratory infections and disease. Fatal substances like methamphetamines in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak have been thought to cause more fatal heart and lung damage due to the drugs constriction of blood vessels and pulmonary hypertension (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020). The National Institute on Drug Abuse has also noted that high demand substances like Opioids are extremely addictive pain-killers, one of which works in relation to the brainstem to slow breathing. If misused, opioids can greatly restrict the users lung and heart health leaving them at a much greater risk to the higher-tiered severity of COVID-19 infections.
Since an individual’s environment can cause a dramatic spike in a person’s drug and substance abuse, global pandemics like our nation’s most recent, COVID-19, have been a major concern in the health-care field for recovering addicts. Widespread shutdowns and social distancing has made it difficult for those seeking guidance and treatment leading to increased stress and a spike in alcohol and tobacco sales in the country further leading to a recovering individual to relapse. Millions of Americans that are currently struggling with an Opioid addiction are just a handful of abusers that heavily depend on face-to-face contact with their healthcare providers. Currently in our nation’s situation, these individuals again are more prone to relapsing or finding other ways of coping through various street drugs or alcohol. According to American Addiction Centers, drug abuse and addiction has continued to cost the American society over 740 billion dollars annually in the following categories: lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime related costs.
Although COVID-19 has kept us cooped up in our homes, socialization whether it be through virtual-chatting or quick visits have been proven to keep an individual from relapsing due to being a “healthy” distraction”. Many of those dealing with substance abuse have a fear of asking for help. Now more than ever, it is highly encouraged by health-care officials to help your friends and loved ones reach out and connect to positive resources if you notice signs of relapse. Making changes to these ongoing crises on both a societal and personal level all start from within through encouragement and proper guidance. It may seem as if there is no support during these unprecedented times and solving the drug and substance abuse crisis seems almost indefinite, however with socialization and proper programs one can find their way back into society and get themselves back on track.
Center of Disease Control and Prevention (Ed.). (2020, June 12). Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Coronavirus Disease 2019. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/stress-coping/alcohol-use.html
National Centers for Drug Abuse Statistics (Ed.). (2019). Drug Abuse Statistics. National Centers for Drug Abuse Statistics. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://drugabusestatistics.org/
National Institutes of Health (Ed.). (2020). COVID-19 Resources. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/comorbidity/covid-19-resources
Thomas, S. (2020, June 1). Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics. American Addiction Center. Retrieved September, 2020, from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics