A third of respondents to a pilot study conducted by the Addiction Policy Forum reported changes or disruptions in their access to treatment or recovery support services because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 1 in 5 said they have increased their substance use since the pandemic began.
“The COVID-19 pandemic creates significant challenges for those struggling with addiction,” Jessica Hulsey, president of the Addiction Policy Forum, said in a news release. “From patients in treatment, to those in recovery to family members and caregivers, too many are struggling with disruptions in care. The data show that the presence of continuous stress and triggers and absence of coping and support mechanisms are coinciding with emotional distress. This may equate to an increase in relapses and overdoses nationwide.”
Of the respondents who reported access disruptions, 87% said they have experienced emotional changes since the start of the pandemic. The top emotions reported were: worry (62%), sadness (51%), fear (51%) and loneliness (42%). Respondents also lamented a lack of in-person 12-Step and support group meetings as a primary concern.
The survey, which had 1,079 participants, was conducted between April 27 and May 8 with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Of those surveyed, 88% were white, non-Hispanic, 66% were female, 95% were over the age of 26, and 55% were college-educated.