How to Tell if You Have a Substance Abuse Problem During COVID-19 Isolation

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The week of March 15, 2020 alcohol sales increased 55% over the previous year. This huge spike coincides with stay at home orders across the United States due to novel coronavirus. While this alcohol might be drunk in moderation over the next few months, increased sales could also point to alcohol abuse.

Similarly, prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications spiked 34% overall by March 15. This increase was greater among women (44%) than men (22.7%).

Many individuals are facing increased stressors right now, including social isolation, children and spouses at home, balancing work and home duties, and job loss or decreased income. It’s common for people to turn to substances to cope with overwhelming stress, but this behavior is concerning. It can even lead someone to develop an addiction. Here’s how to tell if you’re abusing substances while in isolation for coronavirus.

You Use Substances to Feel Normal

Pay attention to the reasons why you’re drinking or taking medications. If you use substances to alleviate boredom, stress, or anxiety, improve your mood, help you sleep, or otherwise feel “normal,” this indicates abuse. While people understandably want to alleviate the stress of the COVID-19 outbreak, substance use is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Instead, try self-care and other healthy stress reduction techniques.

Alcohol or Drugs Interfere with Your Daily Responsibilities

If you find that you’re neglecting your daily responsibilities at work or home due to substance use, this is a major red flag. Drinking on the job is inappropriate and could lead to decreased work performance. And if you’re neglecting your loved ones or your own well-being, your substance use has become a problem.

You’re Experiencing Negative Physical Effects

Excessive alcohol use may cause headaches, sensitivity to light, and dehydration. Most people think of these symptoms as “hangovers” and tend to dismiss them, but they could be a sign of alcohol abuse. If you frequently experience physical effects from your drinking, you are consuming too much alcohol.

Even more concerning are withdrawal symptoms. These are symptoms you experience when you stop drinking alcohol, and they include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Withdrawal indicates that you have become physically dependent on alcohol. Dependence often goes hand-in-hand with addiction.

You Make Harmful Decisions While Under the Influence of Substances

Substances can influence you to make bad decisions, such as drinking and driving, making large online purchases you cannot afford, or constantly fighting with loved ones or coworkers. If your substance use causes you to engage in harmful behaviors, it’s a problem.

You’re Using Illegal Substances

Illegal use is a clear sign that you’re abusing substances. Drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy are not only illegal, they’re extremely harmful. They’re also highly addictive.

Although prescription medications are less likely to lead to addiction, they can still be abused. If you’re using a prescription drug in a different way than your doctor prescribed, you’re abusing it. This could include taking a higher dose or using the medication to get high.

You Want to Cut Back on Substance Use but Can’t

If you find you can’t stop or cut back on substance use, this is a major sign that you’ve developed a dependency or even an addiction. When you realize that your substance use has moved beyond your control, it’s time to seek outside help.

Rehab After Work practices a compassionate model for substance abuse recovery. We get to know your unique circumstances and the factors that drive your substance use. Then we help you create a plan to overcome substance use and find healthy ways to cope with stressors.

Right now, we’re offering all of our programming through telehealth due to the coronavirus outbreak. To see a counselor from the comfort of your home, call us at (800) 238-4357.