As a behavioral health care provider, we’ve been studying drug and alcohol usage during the pandemic since it began. We’ve seen a clear and significant increase in substance use as well as reported mental health symptoms.
Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, the opioid epidemic dominated both local and national public health headlines. Between 2006-2012, 76 billion opioid pills flooded the country. Florida in particular became a focal point as the crisis developed. In fact, just last month, the Florida governor announced a $5 million pilot program to help fight the crisis in the state.
Prior to COVID-19, progress had been made: pill mills were shut down, prescribing protocols for opioids have been adjusted and lawsuits alleging that drug companies prioritized profits over public health have been filed and won. But have the stay-at-home measures, unemployment and restricted access to health care created by the pandemic turned back the clock?
To find out, we launched a survey in partnership with Project Opioid to understand how opioid abuse has been impacted by the pandemic.
We surveyed 785 Florida residents about their substance use pre-COVID compared to now.
Note: Some questions asked respondents to select each option that applied, so in a few instances, the total percentage will be greater than one hundred.
Of those who reported opioid use:
Not only is their reported usage skyrocketing compared to people who use other drugs, their usage patterns are accelerating even faster.
Those who reported opioid use were:
Those who reported opioid use were also more likely to say they are or would consider addiction treatment. Approximately 71% said they are or would consider treatment compared to just 43% of those who report using other drugs.
Unfortunately, opioid users were 41% more likely to report access to health care has been difficult because of the pandemic and 34% more likely to report challenges accessing mental health in the early days of the pandemic than other respondents.
Of those not considering treatment, the majority of all respondents said they didn’t believe they needed it. Opioid users significantly over-index the rest of the respondents for giving other reasons for not seeking treatment, including being:
In addition to mental health symptoms, opioids users were 112% more likely to say they tested positive for COVID-19, putting additional strain on not only their mental but physical health as well.
Opioid users were also more likely to report increased tensions at home. Over half said COVID-19 had a negative impact on their relationships within their household and nearly a quarter reported a “significant negative impact.” They were 81% more likely to report “significantly more” arguments within the household since the emergence of COVID-19.
Opioid addiction is a leading contributor to overdose deaths. In 2018, there were 67,367 fatal overdoses. Opioids were responsible for 69.5% of them. Getting help with an opioid addiction is an important step in managing both physical and mental health and can literally save your life.
To help support Floridians facing addiction or mental health concerns, The Recovery Village operates adult drug and alcohol rehab centers in Umatilla, Orlando, Lake Worth, Atlantis and Miami, in partnership with Baptist Health South Florida as well as a specialty facility designed for teen drug and alcohol rehab in Sebring.
We offer a full spectrum of care, including telehealth for ongoing outpatient treatment and teletherapy for substance use and mental health conditions. Contact us to learn more about a treatment program that can meet your unique needs.
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