Due to Coronavirus, the number of Utahns suffering from alcohol and drug addiction is certainly increasing. Liquor store sales have spiked in Utah. Social isolation, loss of employment, and the inability of residents to pay their bills or buy enough food is certain to not only cause an increase in substance abuse, but also make matters worse for those seeking recovery.
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As political leaders weigh the social and economic costs to “lock-down policies” and the long-term effects of social distancing, Anne Boulter offers stay-at-home detox services that provide her unique insight into the issue.
A statistic that Boulter is well aware of is that for every percentage point increase in unemployement, there is a three percent increase in drug overdoses and suicide. The United States is now approaching a 20% unemployment rate, a level that this country hasn’t seen since the Great Depression. If the corrolation between unemployment and suicide remains true, this could translate into a 60% increase in deaths caused by depression, anxiety and the abuse of substances, a number which could far exceed the death toll from Covid-19. Further, the population group that suffers the most from drug addiction and suicide are people under the age of 45.
Boulter says that the most commonly abused substance is alcohol followed by heroin. Boulter says that patients suffering from alcoholism usually begin their substance abuse by using it as a replacement for friendship. “It’s what people turn to when they don’t want to turn to friends or family. They treat the substance like a friend…abusing the substance to find relief from their problems.”
Utah State Liquor stores have seen a seven percentage point increase in sales since Covid-19 began. And online evidence and anecdotal evidence demonstrates that clearly more Utahns are coping with social isolation and the anxiety of losing their jobs and handling the uncertainty of the future by using and abusing substances.
Boulter agrees that it was a good idea to designate Utah State Liquor stores as “essential.” This would be an extremely difficult time for addicts to go through detox alone. Her clinic now operates by practitioners visiting with recovering addicts through Zoom or Skype meetings. “We would normally visit patients in their home, but we have had to decrease that practice.”
Currently in Utah not only are unemployment claims at an all-time-high but the Utah Food Bank has had more needy people seeking food since 2008. We would encourage readers to donate to the Utah Food Bank by visiting their website.