There’s not a single person in America that hasn’t been impacted by the current pandemic and resulting quarantine in some way. These past several months have been characterized by loneliness, boredom, stress, and anxiety. That’s why many Americans have turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the crisis and simply pass the time. Protecting yourself from substance abuse during these times of crisis is extremely important.
Dump the Alcohol
Alcohol sales have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic. In research compiled by Nielsen, alcohol sales have been up 21% at liquor stores and 234% via online retailers. While drinking alcohol is less dangerous when done in moderation, there is a concern if you struggle with addiction or self-control.
Access to alcohol in your home combined with boredom and cravings may lead you to drink in excess. At least until the pandemic is over and things are back to normal, it’s best to dump the alcohol you do have and stop yourself from buying more.
Both alcohol and drugs can be draining financially, which might keep you from buying them in the first place. Unfortunately, seeing a few extra zeros in your bank account as a result of unemployment checks or stimulus checks might make obtaining drugs and alcohol easier than ever.
According to the American Medical Association, opioid overdoses have been on the rise since the pandemic began back in March. Though you might be excited about your extra funds right now, be sure to spend it responsibly, get your bills paid, and put the rest into savings.
Find a Coping Strategy
Drugs and alcohol are often a focal point of parties and large gatherings, but substance abuse often goes hand-in-hand with poor coping mechanisms. Even casual substance use can turn into an addiction, especially if you rely on substances to ease your emotional pain or ‘escape’ the here and now. To keep yourself from sinking into substance abuse, it’s best to find a healthy coping strategy to ease your mind and stress. That might include getting exercise, meditating, reading a book, going for a walk, or learning to play an instrument.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
One of the most debilitating aspects of this pandemic and quarantine has been the impact on social relationships. The loneliness and social isolation may cause severe boredom and desire to ‘escape’ to feel less lonely. Many times, this is done through substance abuse.
The best thing you can do when you feel lonely is to reach out to those that you can lean on. That may include your best friend, your parents, your siblings, or even your coworker. Try to stick to a consistent contact schedule through text messages, phone calls, or video calls.
It might seem like this pandemic will never end, which may make you feel as if your life is going nowhere. When you feel like you’ve lost direction and purpose, you may turn to drugs and alcohol to get you through the day.
Giving yourself hope and prioritizing your mental health is key, so it’s a great idea to set goals for yourself. They should be both short-term and long-term goals. Set goals for yourself during the pandemic, like exercising 5 times a week, and for when the pandemic finally ends, such as going back to college.
During these times of crisis, the mental health of Americans has been very much at risk. Being unable to cope with the current situation and shutting yourself off from the outside world can make you more susceptible to substance abuse. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, it’s best to reach out to a counselor or therapist to get a treatment plan in order.