Argyle, Texas, June 1, 2020—As many as 75,000 Americans could die because of drug or alcohol misuse and suicide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis conducted by the national public health group Well Being Trust. This staggering number could become a reality due to the growing unemployment crisis, economic downturns and stress caused by isolation and the unknown of when the pandemic will end.¹
This number can be changed, but only if we put significant resources from the local, state, and federal governments into addiction and behavioral health services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Administration did receive a total of $425 million in the $2 trillion coronavirus package that passed in March, but that is not nearly enough to cover all costs and to meet the need. When those monies are dispersed to the different organizations and facilities across the nation that receives SAMHSA funding, it isn’t enough to combat the problem. And many addiction service providers are unable to access any of the billions that have been dedicated from Congress to hospitals and health care providers.²
National statistics and facts:
Deaths from both suicide and drug overdoses rose along with unemployment during the 2008 recession. Unemployment went from 4.6% in 2007 to a peak of 10% in October 2009 and declined steadily reaching 3.5% in early 2010, according to Well Being Trust.¹ The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report on the US jobs market is expected to show dire numbers for May – 7.5 million jobs lost and an unemployment rate near 20%.³
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus.⁴
Recent data show that significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering in place (37%). Negative mental health effects due to social isolation may be particularly pronounced among older adults and households with adolescents, as these groups are already at risk for depression or suicidal ideation.⁴
54% of those who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus, compared to 40% of those who had not lost income or employment. 26% of people experiencing job or income loss reported major negative impacts on their mental health, compared to 15% of those who had not experienced job or income loss.⁴
Stressors in society tend to increase substance use. Alcohol purchases spiked during the month of March with U.S. sales rising 55% in the week ending March 21. States, where recreational marijuana is legal, have also seen more cannabis sold. Data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission reported sales of $84.5 million of cannabis in March — the highest monthly total since recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2015.⁵
“We continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and all the ways in which Santé can provide healing and hope to those with addiction and mental health struggles during this time and beyond,” says Sam Slaton MEd, LPC-S MBA, MHSM, Chief Operating Officer at Santé Center for Healing. “We have 24 years of experience, expertise, and integrity and will continue to help individuals reach the goal of long-term recovery.”
To provide more insights about COVID-19’s impact on mental health and addiction, Santé’s Sam Slaton is available for additional interviews and follow-up.
About Santé Center for Healing
Founded in 1996, Santé Center for Healing provides integrity-driven, evidence-based, and personalized long-term recovery for those suffering from substance use disorders, mental health, trauma, problematic sexual behavior, disordered eating, and other compulsive behaviors. Santé has received accreditation from CARF International. CARF accreditation signals a service provider’s commitment to continually improving services, encouraging feedback, and serving the community.
1. Mallory Simon, CNN. 75,000 Americans at risk of dying from overdose or suicide due to coronavirus despair, group warns. CNN. Updated 12:23 PM ET, Fri May 8, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/08/health/coronavirus-deaths-of-despair/index.html on 2020, May 28
2. Erin Durkin. Addiction services face closures, cutbacks amid COVID-19 outbreak: Substance-abuse advocacy groups are sounding the alarm that facilities may need to roll back services or close if they don’t get financial support from Congress. National Journal. May 7, 2020, 8 p.m. Retrieved from https://www.nationaljournal.com/s/706621unlock=55TUSOOE3LBZA6MU&unlock=7F9DIQCMD4VNV74W on 2020, May 28
3. Anneken Tappe, CNN Business. 1 in 4 American workers have filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. CNN. Updated 10:42 AM ET, Thu May 28, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/28/economy/unemployment-benefits-coronavirus/index.html on 2020, May 28
4. KFF. Nirmita Panchal, Rabah Kamal, Kendal Orgera, Cynthia Cox, Rachel Garfield, Liz Hamel, Cailey Muñana, and Priya Chidambaram. The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use – Issue Brief – 9440. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/ on 2020, May 14
5. Sandhya Raman. Virus forebodes a mental health crisis: Advocates want more funding to stave off anxiety and addiction. Roll Call. Posted April 10, 2020 at 2:47pm. Retrieved from https://www.rollcall.com/2020/04/10/virus-forebodes-a-mental-health-crisis/ on 2020, May 13
6. Image from freepik.com: https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background.