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Hard Economic Times from COVID-19 May Lead to More Substance Abuse

James Judge - March 24, 2020

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TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. – Experts from Footprints Beachside Recovery Center are warning that the response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) will worsen drug and alcohol abuse and lead to dependency issues or relapses.

“The economic situation that is developing is dire, and our elected officials need to seriously consider and weigh the consequences of what will happen with more and more people losing their jobs,” said John Templeton, founder of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center. “While we strongly discourage it, we know from study after study that it is highly common for people to turn to drugs and alcohol during hard economic times.”

According to a study published by the Annual Review of Public Health, called The Health Effects of Economic Decline, alcohol and drug abuse increased during periods of economic decline.

“We want people to know that we’re open for business should they need us. We are not closing down and this is actually a great time to seek treatment, as there is not a lot that they’re going to miss out on,” Templeton said.

Due to COVID-19 Footprints Beachside Recovery Center has implemented additional cleaning and sterilization procedures at their residences and clinical offices. Additionally, they are providing tele-health options for those who do not wish to leave their house for outpatient groups for the first time in their 12-year history.

“Being quarantined, fear, and stress definitely affect mental health. For those that have developed chemical dependency issues, now is great time to establish a healthy routine and seek help. Recovery is about connection, and isolation usually only leads those of us with these issues further into depression and progression in our drinking or drug use,” said Templeton.

The following was pulled directly from the study in the Annual Review of Public Health, called The Health Effects of Economic Decline:

“A number of well-executed studies suggest that unemployment increases alcohol (79), cannabis (7375), and other drug use (109). Unemployment (>20 weeks) has been associated with double the alcohol intake overall, and with four times the rate of heavy drinking among males, in a Swedish population (79). In the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), long-term unemployment (≥3 years) increased the risk of heavy drinking (≥5 drinks on one occasion) by 50% (112). Dooley & Prause (49), using NLSY data, noted that people with a history of substance use may be at higher risk: Unfavorable employment changes were found to predict increased heavy drinking among former heavy drinkers (49). Also using NLSY data, Arkes (3) reported that high state unemployment rates led to increased marijuana and cocaine use among teenagers, adjusting for individual risk factors.”

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