It’s human nature to worry. And when faced with the unknown, even the most steadfast among us can go through periods of fear and doubt which can lead some of us to self-medicate in whatever way we feel works best. With the ongoing threat of COVID-19, it’s understandable why many may feel stressed and anxious for themselves or their loved ones.

For addicts, this time, now, of living in a snow globe turned upside down [Covid-19] can catapult many into relapse and beyond. I have observed that for recovering addicts whose recoveries were problematic before this onslaught they are really being tested. Truth be told, even John Q Normie is struggling but “normies” have a healthy reservoir of resolve to hold serve and wait for this to pass. Addicts are and will continue to be challenged. Zoom meetings can only go so far, yet they are better than nothing.

According to alcohol.org a survey released this week showed that 42% of 13,000 workers questioned claimed to be drinking on the clock while at home. A 55% spike in alcohol sales was reported for the 3rd week in March by marketwatch.com. The sky is not falling even though it might feel like it.

As the nation grapples with the spread of COVID-19, Americans are being told to go home and stay there, for their safety and everyone else’s. But for victims and survivors of domestic violence, including children exposed to it, being home may not be a safe option — and the unprecedented stress of the pandemic could breed unsafety in homes where violence may not have been an issue before. It is a case of proximity breeding contempt.

In the United States, where over 1 million people have been infected with the coronavirus, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that a growing number of callers say that their abusers are using COVID-19 as a means of further isolating them from their friends and family. “Perpetrators are threatening to throw their victims out on the street so they get sick,”

A new report released this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) expresses concern about the potential for increased suicide rates due to economic stress, social isolation, medical problems and other factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic. During March 2020, the Disaster Distress Helpline saw a 338 percent increase in call volume compared with February 2020.

Although data on numbers of calls specifically related to COVID-19 distress are not yet available for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of locally operated crisis centers, Lifeline counselors confirm receiving numerous calls from people expressing concern over their health, economic and financial stability, and substance use.

The world’s largest pornography website, Pornhub, has reported large increases in traffic – for instance, seeing an 18% jump over normal numbers after making its premium content free for 30 days for people who agree to stay home and wash their hands frequently. In many regions, these spikes in use have occurred immediately after social distancing measures have been implemented.

These major categories of negative human behaviors are exploding as a result of this pandemic.

The diseases of despair historically are three classes of behavior-related medical conditions that increase in groups of people who experience despair due to a sense that their long-term social and economic outlook is bleak.

The three disease types are:

  1. Drug overdose (including alcohol overdose),
  2. Suicide
  3. Alcoholic liver disease

I believe that sex and love addiction though not yet in the DSM-5 should also be included as a disease of despair. The total number of Americans who died from the disease of despair in 2018 was 158,000 as compared to 65,000 in 1995. Life has been getting harder and that was before Covid-19.

Diseases of despair differ from diseases of poverty because poverty itself is not the central factor. Groups of impoverished people with a sense that their lives or their children’s lives will improve are not affected as much by diseases of despair. Instead, this affects people who have little reason to believe that the future will be better. As a result, this problem is distributed unevenly, for example by affecting working-class people in the United States more than working-class people in Europe, even when the European economy was weaker. It also affects white people more than racially disadvantaged groups, possibly because working-class white people are more likely to believe that they are not doing better than their parents did, while non-white people in similar economic situations are more likely to believe that they are better off than their parents.

Living in the time of a pandemic goes beyond working hard to not get the virus. Our old way of life is over at least for now. We as members of the human club of 7 billion or as members of a family will have to pay attention to the subtleties of this disease. The final fallout from this virus is yet to be determined but the wreckage will bleed out further than death and case count.

Whoever you were in terms of inner strength, wellness and resolve before this “shit storm” will have a lot to do with how it plays out for you in the end. In addict terms this illness will make you more of who you are. It will be like putting miracle grow on your character defects.

If your struggling and can use a hand up we at No More Secrets are here. As I always say: misery is optional.

Stay safe, sane and sober…

Peace out for now.

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