Understanding The Rise Of Drug Use And Addiction During The Pandemic – The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to healthcare systems and public health policies worldwide. It necessitates the development of novel treatment and preventative techniques to adapt to the pandemic’s impact.
Multiple factors—attributable to their clinical, psychological, and sociocultural conditions—put people with substance use disorders (SUD) at risk for contamination.
Furthermore, the social and economic upheavals brought on by the pandemic, as well as the conventional challenges of treatment access and adherence, would almost probably intensify throughout this time, exacerbating their situation.
There is a specialized drug rehab in Houston that has taken more addiction patients during the pandemic than it has in the past few years, proving how drug use and addiction have increased significantly.
Covid Impact On Drug Use-Statistics
More than 100 million people have been forced into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 issue, which has exacerbated unemployment and inequalities by causing the world to lose 255 million jobs by 2020.
Mental illnesses are also on the rise all over the world. These factors can increase the number of people who suffer from drug addiction.
Furthermore, throughout the pandemic, changes in drug usage patterns have already been noticed, including an increase in the use of cannabis and the non-medical use of pharmaceutical sedatives.
Demand for these medications has most likely been accelerated by underlying socioeconomic pressures.
Parallel to this, the use of technology and cryptocurrency payments outside of the regular financial system had also accelerated drugs’ accessibility even when everything was closed during the lockdown.
With internet transactions, getting drugs has never been easier, and big drug markets on the dark web are now generating $315 million each year.
The number of persons consuming drugs increased by 22% between 2010 and 2019, owing in part to an increase in the global population. In 2019, around 200 million people smoked cannabis, accounting for 4% of the worldwide population.
Over the last decade, the number of cannabis users has climbed by about 18%.
In 2019, an estimated 20 million persons used cocaine, accounting for 0.4% of the global population.
In the United States, over 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2019, more than double the number in 2010.
Has The COVID-19 Pandemic Introduced New Trends In Drug Consumption?
COVID19 pandemic has resulted in the establishment of social separation to control the disease’s spread, which has changed people’s lifestyles. As a result, people have been experiencing anxiety and fear for their health and jobs, and they have been forced to live a foreign lifestyle without the support of their loved ones.
Furthermore, as a result of unknowingly mimicking others’ thoughts, the condition of those with psychiatric problems may have worsened throughout the pandemic.
This unusual circumstance could have pushed more people into deviant conduct associated with licit or illicit substance use. In addition, it could have provided a favorable opportunity for drug traffickers to acquire new consumers.
On the other hand, global difficulties have not supported the typical trading sector.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, social separation has been implemented. Furthermore, the scarcity of traditional narcotics, along with the inability to go out looking for them, may have prompted users to abuse psychoactive prescription medications like benzodiazepines.
Despite the lack of scientific proof, the COVID-19 pandemic’s influence could result in significant changes in substance usage patterns, as well as an increased risk of replacement, adulteration, contamination, and dilution with a potentially dangerous substance.
Furthermore, during this period of house confinement, users may be looking for psychotropic medications to be ingested alone rather than “socializing” substances to be utilized in recreational contexts.
Social Isolation Has Increased Drug Use
Drug availability is projected to expand due to rapid technology innovation paired with the agility and adaptation of drug traffickers who use new internet platforms to sell drugs and other substances.
This is why even when people are socially isolated, they don’t have any drug supply shortage because they can place orders online.
Even brief bouts of loneliness and isolation can have detrimental effects on one’s physical and mental health. For example, isolation can cause anxiety and rage, sleep difficulties, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which may go undiagnosed due to a lack of appropriate screening methods.
Furthermore, due to the temporary monopolization of mental hospitals for COVID-19 treatment, psychiatric aid from health professionals is not guaranteed.
Some drug users may have changed to narcotics, which are available online, in addition to prescribed sedatives. Indeed, consumption of these two types of novel psychoactive substances increased the most in 2019.
COVID-19 Health Risks And Increased Drug Abuse
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that has a high death rate in the elderly and patients with comorbidities such as diabetes, cancer, and breathing problems.
Many drug users may have been at risk of respiratory distress and death if infected with COVID-19 due to the high frequency of chronic conditions among drug users. It’s also worth noting that heroin or crack cocaine users may develop asthma, sore nose, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to their addiction.
Furthermore, those who use excessive amounts of prescription opioids or have an opioid use problem face significant difficulties with their respiratory health.
Indeed, opioids have respiratory-depressant effects on the central nervous system, and large doses can produce severe hypoxemia, which can lead to irreparable brain damage.
Chronic respiratory disorders have been linked to an increase in overdose mortality in opioid users, and COVID-19’s impaired lung function may provide a similar risk to this group. Users of opiates, opioids, and cocaine also have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
In the end, we can conclude that particular prevention and treatment techniques must be explored to control the drug abuse rate during the pandemic.
The risks and obstacles that healthcare workers working with SUD will face during and after the COVID-19 outbreak must be understood.
Contactless drug sales, such as those sent through the mail, are also on the rise, a tendency that the pandemic may have hastened. Hence, addiction treatment should be reinforced rather than postponed to handle the difficulties emerging from both SUD and COVID-19.
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