By Sandy Baker
Substance Use and Stress
One of the biggest triggers for substance use is stress. When people feel stress, they turn to substances that can relieve it, especially if daily life offers no outlet.
There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased stress. People are without jobs. Companies are struggling to keep their doors open. Family members are unable to visit each other, especially in hospitals and nursing homes. You’re trying to make ends meet, navigating online classrooms for your elementary students, and battling the fear that every cough in your household signifies the arrival of the virus. Your usual stress-relief outlets–dinner with friends, a workout at your gym, or other group activities–are not available.
The pandemic has led to a significant increase not only in medical complications, but also in rates of drug and alcohol use. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a study indicating that as of June 2020, 13 percent of people surveyed had started or increased their use of substances to deal with emotions or stress brought on by COVID-19.
If your stress has increased in 2020 and you’ve dealt with it by using more drugs or alcohol than you used to, what can you do to regain your health and well-being?
Recognize the Signs of Addiction
The first step is the hardest. Recognize you need help. Start by asking yourself a few simple questions. These can help you determine if you’re using drugs or alcohol in a risky manner.
- Are you using more now than you did a year ago?
- When you get anxious or upset, do you turn to a substance to help you?
- Have you stopped reaching out to friends and family?
- Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy?
- Do you feel ill, tired, overwhelmed, and unable to deal with stress?
- Are you refilling prescriptions before you should?
- Are your anxiety or depression medications no longer working as they should?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, it’s critical to know you’re not alone. It is also important to take a step back and ask yourself one final question: Do you want your life to get better?
If the answer is yes, it’s time to get help.
Overcome Your Excuses
You may know or suspect that you have an addiction. Even so, you may talk yourself out of getting help. It’s easy to come up with excuses to avoid treatment.
You don’t want to spend the money right now.
Did you know that most health insurance policies offer coverage for mental health needs, including addiction? They treat it the same way they treat other medical health problems. If your insurance doesn’t fully cover the cost of treatment, many treatment centers have scholarship programs available to help.
You don’t want to leave your family right now.
Leaving home for a 30-day residential treatment program isn’t easy to do, especially during a pandemic. Yet a pandemic may be the best time to get help. Your work schedule may be more flexible, you may have more friends and family available to help with childcare or pet-sitting, and you may have fewer responsibilities to juggle. Regardless, getting help now means that you’ll be able to better support your loved ones. Together, you can practice the skills for coping with stress that you’ll learn in treatment.
You just need the pandemic to end. Then, you’ll stop.
Easier said than done. As you continue to use substances, your tolerance and dependence builds. Addiction is a disease; it changes your brain chemistry, making it nearly impossible to “just stop” without professional help. The better option is to reach out now, before you hit “rock bottom.”
What to Do Today for Help with Addiction
Today, make the decision to get help. If you’re using alcohol or drugs and struggling to stop, our drug and alcohol treatment center in Lubbock, TX can help you get back on track. Give us a call. We’ll talk about your options, needs, and budget. We’ll help you decide what level of care is best for you. You’ll come out of treatment stronger, happier, and with more resources at hand to deal with whatever obstacles you encounter.