Don't Let Pandemic Stress Drive You to DWI

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the stress from isolation, illness, unemployment, financial strain, and the lack of available in-person activities and recovery resources is leading to an increase in substance abuse and relapse for people in the United States. Pandemic stress has also caused an increase in DWI convictions across the country. Fortunately, there are a number of tools and remote resources available to help people who are struggling with addiction get through these challenging times and avoid drunk or drugged driving.  

Increase in Drug and Alcohol Use During the Pandemic

It is not uncommon for people to turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate when they are dealing with stress. The uncertain times the world is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic serves as proof. In a recent survey, 55% of respondents reported an increase in their alcohol consumption with 18% reporting a significant increase. Another 36% reported an increase in their use of illicit drugs. When asked why they were using an increased amount of these substances, about 53% said they were trying to cope with stress. Another 39% reported that they had increased their use out of boredom, and 32% said they were dealing with mental health issues like depression or anxiety. 

Substance Use May Increase Vulnerability to COVID-19

Although turning to substance use may be tempting for people and may provide temporary relief, there are significant health repercussions that may result. For instance, Alcohol and drug use can lead to changes within a person’s respiratory, immune, and pulmonary systems, increasing the user’s vulnerability to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. 

  • Cocaine: Cocaine use can cause severe damage to the respiratory and pulmonary systems. 
  • Opioids and Methamphetamines: In high doses, opioids slow breathing, which can lead to hypoxemia (decreased oxygen in the blood). Methamphetamines can constrict blood vessels, often leading to pulmonary damage and hypertension.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption lowers the immune system, decreasing the body’s ability to fight off infectious diseases like coronavirus. 

Coping with Addiction and Stress During the Pandemic

Fortunately, there are a number of things people can do to cope with the stress the pandemic has caused and avoid relapse and the reckless behaviors that accompany substance abuse; like driving drunk - which could lead to a car crash with injured passengers, getting charged with a DWI, or ending up on the wrong end of an injury lawsuit

Self Help for People Struggling with Addiction

People who are struggling with substance abuse issues may find relief with a few self-help solutions. 

  • Seeking out healthy activities can help people who are struggling with addiction alleviate some of the stress, anxiety, and/or depression they may be experiencing. 
  • Taking a break from social media and the news can reduce negative thoughts. 
  • Reading a book or watching a comedy can help get a person’s mind off of the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.
  • Exploring stress-relieving activities like taking a walk in the park, trying out a few yoga moves, or listening to relaxing music can help people cope with anxiety. 

Getting, and Staying Prepared

Addiction thrives on uncertainty and catching people off guard. One of the best things a person can do is to get prepared before the cravings begin, if possible. Even if a person has relapsed, however, it is important to remember that it is never too late to begin getting help. There are a number of remote programs and resources available to help people who are struggling with addiction. These might include getting in touch with telehealth services to inquire about medications and a plan for refills to help them cope. There are also mental health services that often allow people to receive therapy and support from the comfort of their homes. Contacting an online support group can be helpful as well.  

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