Across the country, U.S. drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high.
Addiction experts blame the pandemic, people are stressed and isolated, treatment and recovery programs are on-hold.
La Jolla Clinical Psychologist Dr. Christina Huang says this was expected.
“Of course we would expect substance use to be on the rise, because if people are at home and they are feeling distressed, difficult thoughts and emotions and very little ways to distract or to cope with it or reason through it,” she said.
Data from the Centers For Disease Control, show COVID-19 has led to an increase in substance use and an increase in overdoses nationwide.
It’s the same story here.
According to the San Diego Police Department, officers responded to nearly 100 more overdoses in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2019 police responded to overdose calls, where an arrest or report was made 198 times.
In 2020, that number surged to 284.
“The ability to last beyond the urge is far harder than ever,” Huang said. “It’s far harder to use a tool they have been taught than it is to go and grab a bottle of whisky and drown it out or to do some other addictive behaviors.”
It’s also been reported that rising unemployment caused by the pandemic has contributed to substance abuse problems nationwide.
As Federal relief payments were sent to people last spring, the usual ways to spend that money were shut down, resulting in some people spending money on dangerous opioids.
Living in isolation from others, also contributed to the crisis.
“We are social creatures. We are meant to be living in a community interacting with each other,” said Huang. “So the way we have been living out of necessity for the past 10 months has been very unnatural towards what we need for our optimal health.”