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More than one-third (36 percent) of Utahns are concerned that the economic downturn caused by the oronavirus will result in increased drug and alcohol use in their community, according to a recent survey by Drug Abuse.com. The survey also concluded that 20 percent of recently unemployed residents have turned to alcohol or increased their alcohol consumption.

Even prior to the pandemic, many cities across the country had been impacted by alcohol and/or substance use. Rural communities, in particular, have been greatly affected by substance use in addition to rising rates of poverty and unemployment, which are two key community-level risk factors for addiction, a release from American Addiction Centers said. The pandemic has the potential to amplify these negative effects, and for those cities that do not have sufficient systems in place to address the substance use and mental health repercussions, things can get much worse.

A survey by American Addiction Centers revealed that 25 percent of Americans say they have noticed their neighbors drinking more alcohol since lockdowns began. With social interaction hampered during the pandemic, some people are engaging in habits they would not do under typical circumstances, such as drinking during the day. 

While some may be drinking earlier, or more often, to cope with this extended disruption to their everyday lives, it’s also important to note that continual use of alcohol for this purpose can lead to dependency, the organization said.

“Because people deal with stress, anxiety and worry in many different ways, check on friends and loved ones who have been significantly impacted by the fallout of the pandemic,” said Melitta Basa, clinical director at Greenhouse Treatment Center and spokesperson for DrugAbuse.com. “Make an effort to maintain communication with those who may need it most. If you suspect that someone is developing an unhealthy relationship to alcohol, you can direct them to a number of online treatment and support services, virtual meetings and hotlines that may help them.”

The full study can be found here.