A recent CNN Health article summarizes studies asserting that with a second wave of COVID-19 there will be a second wave of mental health and substance use disorders. Many of these cases will be linked to grief for friends and family lost in the first wave of the pandemic.
The medical journal JAMA released a report on Monday stating that “a June 2020 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … found that 40.9% of respondents reported ‘at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition,’ including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse, with rates that were 3 to 4 times the rates 1 year earlier.”
As of today, more than 216,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. With “approximately nine family members bereaved” per death, there are a projected 2 million bereaved individuals in the US. The adverse mental health conditions may only be exacerbated by co-occurring substance use disorders.
With increased substance use comes heightened risks for overdoses as well as suicides. According to the JAMA report, these struggles will disproportionately affect Black and Latinx people, older adults, lower socioeconomic groups, and healthcare workers.
Jessica Johnson–the Clinical Director of Atlanta Center for Mental Health and Atlanta Detox Center.–says the center has seen an increase in patients with grievances related to COVID-19.
“We have seen an influx of clients on both the mental health track as well as the primary substance abuse track paralyzed with preoccupation over what the DSM calls ‘Illness Anxiety Disorder,’ formerly hypochondriasis,” she said. “These are often individuals who have never been exposed to COVID, and on the contrary stop exposing themselves to anything outside of isolation. We have seen people come in who never presented with agoraphobia experiencing it.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that “about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder, and vice versa.” In communities around the country, drug overdoses are drastically increasing.
A CDC survey concluded that “the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic should increase intervention and prevention efforts to address associated mental health conditions.”
“Meeting those clients with acceptance and commitment therapy, as well as structured and safe exposure therapy, shows tremendous results,” Johnson said. “I like to view things from a positive psychology lens, and present clients with the possibility that the pandemic is an opportunity to heal from repressed pain; you could ignore this anxiety before, now you are choosing not to, so let’s recover.”
If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders, there is help and hope. At TruHealing Centers across the country, we offer the full continuum of addiction-related care, from medical detox, to primary residential mental health treatment, to long-term outpatient aftercare.
To learn which level of care is the right fit for you, speak with an Admissions Specialist today at 410-593-0005.