Pandemic created a ‘tipping point’

Pandemic created a ‘tipping point’

Pandemic created a ‘tipping point’ for some in addiction recovery, says mental health expert


The economic instability and stressors of changed ways of life have served as a tipping point for some of those in addiction recovery, said a counselor and addiction treatment center owner.

“We know for sure that the pandemic has made things worse, and I think the reason for that is that COVID has caused is a tipping point for a lot of individuals,” said Dr. Scott Tracy, owner of Tracy Counseling Center in Lemont Furnace and Wellness Recovery in Uniontown. “You have your normal life stressors, and then on top of that this enormous stress of a pandemic. The coping mechanisms break down, and so you use. You need to use in order to cope, to sedate your emotions.”

He noted most of the stress is caused by economic factors, not necessarily a fear of contracting the virus. In addition, there are basic changes to daily life, such as wearing masks and social distancing. There are also fewer social outlets, with canceled sporting events and school routines upended. Overdoses among teens have increased, he said, attributing that to changes in school schedules.

Statewide, there has been a 30% increase in overdoses, he said. However, he has not seen an influx in patients at his practice. Melissa Ferris, assistant executive director of the Fayette County Drug & Alcohol Commission, also said their number of clients has remained steady.

“We have not seen a dramatic increase, or anything like that,” she said.

She noted overdose deaths have been decreasing for several years. Overdose Free PA, which compiles data from county coroners across the state, indicated 77 fatal overdoses were reported in Fayette County in 2017, but the number has dropped steadily since then. There were 41 overdose deaths in the county in 2018, 37 in 2019, and 21 so far in 2020.

She said none of her agency’s clients have specifically said stressors due to the pandemic have caused them to relapse or get services, while Tracy said clients at Wellness Recovery have voiced concerns reflective of struggles caused by the pandemic.

“Addiction has been a pandemic for a long time, so we haven’t necessarily seen an increase in numbers, but the context of the type of patients that we’re seeing more matches COVID,” he said.

Many of the recent clients are older and under-insured. He said many of them lost health insurance because they lost their jobs or their hours were reduced. Many worked in service industries, and either lost their businesses or faced layoffs.

“All of those stressors led them to use or turn to alcohol,” he said Read more….

Alcoholism in the US Is So Much Worse Than We Thought

Alcoholism in the US Is So Much Worse Than We Thought

A recent study has brought to light some seriously concerning data
One in eight Americans is an alcoholic. One in eight.

Under the radar, Americans have been drinking way more, sliding silently further down a slippery slope of alcohol addiction. Some are even calling it an epidemic — shocking, since few Americans were even aware that the condition was on the rise.

Two surveys, conducted 11 years apart, found that dangerous alcohol consumption is increasing in prevalence across all demographics in the United States. The second survey was conducted from 2012 to 2013, and according to a report in the JAMA Psychiatry Journal, the results showed that problematic use of alcohol rose sharply in the 11-year interim.

Populations with the most risk include women, older people, and ethnic minorities. The surveys included Americans of diverse backgrounds to ensure a representative sample, revealing the disparities between ethnic groups.

High-risk drinking, which is characterized by drinking that has the potential to severely impact the health of the drinker, increased by nearly 30 percent. And even more terrifyingly, the prevalence of alcoholism skyrocketed by nearly 50 percent.

We know this seems dramatic. But the proof is in the pudding:12.7 percent of the entire population interviewed — from a large, representative sample of 36,000 people — had been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. That means that one in eight people interviewed were medically confirmed alcoholics.

This number did not include those who may have been suffering from alcoholism but either did not report or had not been diagnosed.

This is one of the more dramatic health crises that has afflicted the U.S. in quite some time. Alcoholism is nothing to laugh over and nothing to brush off. The condition is severe and affects the mental, physical, and emotional health of those afflicted. Alcoholism in the long term can cause irreversible liver damage, brain trauma, and even cancer.

So why hasn’t the spotlight been on alcoholism? Read more…