A depressed man sits on his couch and thinks how COVID-19 has impacted his mental health.

How COVID-19 Has Damaged Mental Health (and Led to Substance Abuse)

It’s crazy to think that only a year ago we had never conceived of a world where almost all travel would stop; where people would be asked to avoid human contact for days, weeks, and months on end to avoid getting sick and infecting their friends and loved ones; where whole industries would shut down and the economy would grind to a halt due to a virus.

While this all seemed outlandish a year ago, it looks like a normal way of life now.

With a year of the pandemic to look back on, one of the biggest questions doesn’t necessarily have to do with the virus, but rather, how has COVID-19 impacted mental health?

A significant life change like the COVID-19 pandemic is a very real, traumatic event. For some individuals, it has significantly impacted their mental health and propelled them toward substance use to cope with stress and anxiety.

Do you have a loved one who has endured significant emotional distress because of COVID-19? Helping your loved one process their experience is a great way to provide support during this time in their life. It can also be exactly what they need to avoid succumbing to their substance use disorder and the negative emotional state associated with their disease.

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Mental Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the proportion of U.S. adults experiencing symptoms of severe anxiety and depression have quadrupled since the pandemic began, with the burden of these mental health issues disproportionately impacting women and people of color.

One example focuses on Southern California, where calls to the Los Angeles suicide and mental health hotlines have increased 8,000% over the past year.

Additional research has suggested that the pandemic will lead to as many as 75,000 deaths from alcohol and drug misuse and suicide, increasing the total of COVID-related deaths and reinforcing the fact that people’s mental health has been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

Have COVID-19 and Its Mental Health Impact Led Individuals to Substance Abuse?

While COVID-19 has been the primary area of focus for the past year, the existing overdose epidemic, which rose to record highs in 2019 with 70,000 deaths, has continued to increase.

Research into the topic has shown that the pandemic has worsened opioid abuse and substance use disorders in general.

This rise in substance addiction has been attributed to many factors, including isolation caused by shelter-in-place orders and the increasing financial strain, as unemployment hit record numbers within multiple industries.

In addition, the chronic stress and anxiety linked to many uncertainties individuals are facing has directly led to an increase in diagnosed mental health issues and substance use disorders.

Some significant findings throughout the pandemic include:

  • Americans reported a 55% rise in alcohol consumption.
  • 36% of Americans reported increased use of marijuana and prescription opioids
  • The increase in alcohol consumption was 67% in states hardest hit by the coronavirus, including New York and New Jersey.
  • 42% of Americans reported having a drink on the job as they worked from home.
  • 13% of people increased or started using substances to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19.

Overall, the data suggests that in the United States, COVID-19 has led to an increase in substance use and overdoses.

While the pandemic itself is trending in a better direction, the trauma experienced by your loved one can impact their life and substance use disorder for years to come.

Because of this, finding a clinically qualified treatment facility to help them process their experiences is imperative to beginning their road to recovery.

COVID-19 and Mental Health: There Is Life-Changing, Co-Occurring Help for Your Loved One

Managing a co-occurring illness can be difficult to navigate. Is it best to first address the mental health symptoms or the substance use disorder?

Fortunately, finding a clinically qualified treatment facility can properly address this issue and other potential problems for you and your loved one.

Most dual diagnosis treatment programs conduct a comprehensive diagnostic assessment with your loved one to determine the most appropriate treatment program to begin their recovery.

By focusing on creating and improving a healthy lifestyle with mindfulness training, improved nutrition and holistic healing, your loved one can learn to address their physical and mental health as a whole.

This enables them to achieve sustained sobriety while implementing therapeutic techniques that can help them achieve health and happiness for the rest of their life.

Individualized, Holistic Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

The self-perpetuating cycle your loved one is caught up in doesn’t have to rule their life forever. They can face their co-occurring hurdles head-on with professional help and individualized support at Ranch Creek Recovery.

Learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment program, or contact us today to get your questions answered and learn about our all-encompassing approach to co-occurring disorder treatment.


Well Being Trust. The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide. Accessed April 20, 2021. https://wellbeingtrust.org/areas-of-focus/policy-and-advocacy/reports/projected-deaths-of-despair-during-covid-19/.

NY Times. In Shadow of Pandemic, U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record. Accessed April 20, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/15/upshot/drug-overdose-deaths.html.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdose Deaths Accelerating During COVID-19. Accessed April 20, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p1218-overdose-deaths-covid-19.html.