COVID-19, Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Woman thinking at home
Image: martin-dm / iStock by Getty Images

There is no questioning that the COVID-19 health pandemic has delivered a blow to the American people. Everywhere we look, there is evidence of either the health effects of the crisis or the economic impact of it.

One thing that has not yet been fully realized is what the future effects of the pandemic will be. How many businesses will never reopen? How many people will be permanently displaced or adversely affected? And how will those who are affected cope?

If meaningful action isn’t taken to help those who are struggling with substance abuse and those whose substance abuse will escalate during the COVID-19 health crisis, then it is likely that 2020 and 2021 (and maybe even more years into the future) will see significant spikes in drug and alcohol-related deaths.

A Grim Prediction

The Well Being Trust released some very concerning predictions on what the future might hold if the United States does not correctly address the economic and public health fallout caused by COVID-19. According to their findings, it’s possible that upwards of 75,000 people might die from drug and alcohol-related causes that are directly related to the disruption caused by COVID-19.

It’s worth mentioning that the United States already loses about 70,000 people to drug overdoses every year and about 88,000 people to alcohol-related causes every year. The Well Being Trust is estimating an additional 75,000 substance-related deaths as a result of COVID-19.

Concerned by the findings, Dr. Benjamin F. Miller, the chief strategy officer for the Well Being Trust, had this to say about the results: “Undeniably, policymakers must place a large focus on mitigating the effects of COVID. However, if the country continues to ignore the collateral damage, we will not come out of this stronger. If we work to put in place healthy community conditions, good healthcare coverage, and inclusive policies, we can improve mental health and well-being.”

The Sheer Loss of Life Due to Drugs and Alcohol

Paramedics at emergency entrance
Image: JazzIRT / iStock by Getty Images

Drug and alcohol addiction and the loss of life that comes about from these problems is a global crisis. However, the western world suffers more from this problem than many other countries. That’s why the effects of COVID-19 and the potential substance abuse-related loss of life that may be yet to come is so concerning.

According to International Overdose Awareness Day, roughly 585,000 die from drug overdoses every year (2017 statistics). About 1/4th of those worldwide deaths occur in North America (United States, Canada, and Mexico), even though these three countries barely comprise 1/16th of the world population.

In 2018, there were 67,367 deaths from drug overdoses in the United States. That statistic came down slightly from 2017’s record-breaking 70,237 overdose deaths. But the 2018 death toll is still more three times higher than the 1999 death toll of just under 20,000 lives lost to drug overdoses. And keep in mind those figures do not take into account other ways people die from drugs, such as fatal medical conditions caused by drug use, or drug-related accidents and injuries. Those figures represent just drug overdoses.

And also keep in mind that the data discussed in this section so far has revolved entirely around drugs. But what about alcohol? Alcohol is technically a drug, but alcohol-related deaths are recorded in a separate category from drug deaths.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes every year. That means that just this one substance causes more death than all other drugs combined. Furthermore, because alcohol addicts often die young, alcohol is responsible for about 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year.

Alcohol abuse is a considerable problem globally, and as in the United States, it’s projected that alcohol abuse problems will worsen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-COVID-19, alcohol was involved in almost 3 million premature deaths each year. It remains to be seen how that number may increase following COVID-19.

Drug and Alcohol Deaths are Preventable

What’s truly heartbreaking about drug and alcohol deaths is that, even though millions of people die from drug and alcohol-related causes every year, every one of those deaths is entirely preventable! Yes, drug and alcohol addiction is a harsh and brutal health crisis. There is no mistaking that. But no matter how bad one’s addiction gets, anyone can break free from their plight and create a new life for themselves. Every drug and alcohol death is preventable. No addiction has to be terminal.

Getting Your Loved One Help

Helping young woman
Image: FatCamera / iStock by Getty Images

If you know someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol, it is crucial that you help them get into a treatment center as soon as possible. There is no way of predicting when a fatal overdose may come, so the family members and loved ones of addicts must assume that any day could be an addict’s last day. And with the added hardship and difficulty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the unpredictable nature of addiction is further exacerbated.

Narconon, a globally prominent drug and alcohol addiction treatment program, offers a unique and effective method of helping addicts overcome the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. By using a program found nowhere else in the world, Narconon utilizes a time-tested methodology to help people get their lives back, to help recovering addicts tackle the underlying issues that led them to addiction in the first place. Narconon can also help people learn how to create an even better, more fulfilling life than what they had before they fell prey to addiction.

Don’t let your loved one become just another statistic. Don’t let them be yet another addict who loses their life when their life could have been saved. Please take action today to help them into a drug and alcohol treatment center. Please don’t wait until it is too late.


Sources:

AUTHOR

Ren

After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.

NARCONON FREEDOM CENTER

DRUG EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION