Ark Behavioral Health Addiction Specialist On How The Pandemic Has Affected Addiction - Exclusive

We don't need the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm that increased anxiety can lead to an uptick in addiction and drug use — yet the CDC did just that during the pandemic, a time of high stress for most Americans. What is striking is that according to the CDC, overdose deaths went up by 15% between 2020 and 2021, a stark and very troubling statistic. 

Sadly, people at risk for developing addictive behaviors were hit especially hard when COVID-19 forced us into lockdowns. To better understand this phenomenon, Health Digest talked exclusively to Dr. Manish Mishra, Medical Reviewer for Ark Behavioral Health. He is Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healthcare and Diagnostic Center.

In our exclusive interview, Dr. Mishra talked about Demi Lovato and their decision to try the California sober trend, which sees people sticking to just alcohol and marijuana but eschewing all other substances. But as he pointed out, "Making exceptions for certain drugs can become a very slippery slope. If you've struggled with substance abuse, California sober can sound appealing, but replacing one mind-altering drug with another won't help a person to remain sober and find long-term recovery."

He also noted, "The reality is, many people who use marijuana or alcohol in this way have co-occurring conditions like mental illness or substance use disorders."

Getting to the root cause of addiction is the only solution

Between the extended periods of isolation, the constant stream of an anxiety-heightening news cycle, and the various personal struggles COVID-19 brought to people's doorsteps, the pandemic was the perfect storm of circumstances for people prone to addiction — perhaps especially those who subscribe to a California sober approach to drugs and alcohol.

"With emotions running high and a lack of healthy coping strategies, instead of exploring options such as therapy and professional treatment, people embracing the California sober movement may push these legitimate issues down in search of temporary relief," Dr. Manish Mishra explained to Health Digest. 

But he warned that a California sober mindset often only leads to the use of other substances beyond marijuana and alcohol. "The only way to achieve sobriety is to embrace full sobriety and uncover the root causes of the addiction," he affirmed.

What we can do about addiction post-pandemic

"There was a significant spike in drug abuse and drug overdoses during the pandemic," Dr. Manish Mishra confirmed, adding, "The effects are still impacting lives today." Indeed, to cope with lockdown isolation, people used alcohol and marijuana more often. "However, these substances often lead to the use of new drugs, an impact that took hold of many lives during the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated pre-existing substance abuse or mental health disorders," he explained.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction in the aftermath of pandemic lockdowns, help is available. Dr. Mishra encourages everyone to take this problem seriously and get professional help. An important step is to remember you aren't alone in dealing with this. "Consider speaking with an addiction counselor or getting started with a rehabilitation program," he advised.

If you're ready to start the path to healing and sobriety, help is available to you and your loved one. You can learn more about substance abuse, treatment, and recovery by exploring the extensive resources provided by Ark Behavioral Health addiction treatment specialists.