COVID Presents Increased Risk of Addiction for Unusual Groups
The pandemic’s effect on addiction has become a hot topic for researchers and mental health specialists alike. "The COVID-19 pandemic is a particularly grave risk to the millions of Americans with opioid use disorder, who—already vulnerable and marginalized—are heavily dependent on face-to-face health care delivery," researchers stated in "An Epidemic in the Midst of a Pandemic: Opioid Use Disorder and COVID-19," a recent study that examined the effects of the unprecedented situation.
In addition to those wrestling with addiction even before the pandemic created challenges in receiving care, it is now being reported that everyone from retired baby boomers with no preexisting addictions to millennials struggling with job loss and COVID related family challenges are now finding it harder to put a limit on emotion-numbing substances. According to national surveys alcohol sales are up 250 percent, a trend that is compounding both emerging and preexisting mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression.
“In my practice I have been working with a lot of people during quarantine around addiction,” explains Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD. “The longer COVID restrictions continue, the more potential there is for temporary behaviors based on escaping emotional turmoil to turn into full blown addictions.”
Addiction is not always about drugs, alcohol, or other substances. It can also take on forms including uncontrolled gambling, shopping, gaming, smoking, food, and sex addiction. When these activities become compulsive or unstoppable, they have essentially hijacked the brain’s otherwise 'normal' pleasure functions. At this point, when a behavior becomes a habit or addiction, getting back to ‘normal’ or getting control over compulsions can be a challenge for most anyone.
The Toll of Long-Term Use
Addiction is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as a brain disease indicated by cravings, an inability to abstain from the behavior or substance, dysfunctional emotional responses, and a loss of behavioral control. Compulsive behaviors are often unconscious and can result in making questionable choices. Although breaking an addiction is tough, it can be done. The sooner it is addressed, the better the chances are for recovery.
With any addiction, the recognition that something that may have started out as a distraction has now become a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. While denial over the loss of control that leads to addiction may be a way of coping with sudden changes in behavior, knowing when to seek help is key to recovery.
Healthy alternatives to addictive behavior
“My job as a mental health professional is to help my patients restore balance by guiding them toward healthier coping mechanisms,” explains Dr. Holland. “The focus of addiction therapy in my practice highlights how attachment and connection is the opposite of addiction.”
Treatment also incorporates behavioral therapies, counseling, and other supportive measures to build new and improved habits and life skills. Through this process stress and anger management as well as communication skills are combined with relapse prevention tools to create new coping mechanisms that support well-being.
As a highly qualified drug and alcohol counselor, Dr. Holland provides the most effective treatments for managing compulsive behaviors and addictions and offers individualized therapy to address the unique behaviors that the client may want to change.
Teletherapy – Online Video Counseling Services
Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support
It’s no question that these are very trying times for all of us, so I want to let you know that you are not alone. No matter what is coming up for you right now it is important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. I invite you reach out to me to see how we can start getting you on the path to feeling better now.
Contact Dr. Holland to learn more and to schedule an appointment or call 707-479-2946.