Why the Rising Cost of Living will Drive Addiction Rates Higher

The rising costs of living post-pandemic are creating a new set of challenges for people who rely on the income from their jobs to meet basic needs and maintain a comfortable standard of living.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused companies to cut back on employee benefits, as well as slashed discretionary spending by consumers, according to data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the UK, the results of the pandemic on the general public are just as destructive, if not more.

How the Pandemic Made Living More Expensive

With the coronavirus spreading around the globe, our lives have changed dramatically. It seems like everything we need is getting more expensive, and while the government says it wants to help us out during this time, the reality is that things aren’t going to get any easier for many people.

We have already seen a significant increase in the number of people suffering from mental illness due to the coronavirus, with suicide rates increasing significantly across the country. We also saw an unprecedented spike in the number of people using illicit substances to deal with stress and anxiety brought on by the virus. With the economy struggling, and unemployment figures continuing to climb, many people in Britain are feeling financially unstable.

This has created a perfect storm of issues for those who struggle with substance abuse — and it’s only likely to worsen over the coming months.

How Addiction Rises Where There’s Not Enough Money

According to the British Government, drug-related crimes are on the rise, with illegal drugs costing the taxpayers almost £20 billion every year. According to the data which accompanied the new budget for drug and alcohol treatment, there are 300,000 heroin and cocaine addicts in England who commit about half the robberies and burglaries in the territory. 

When there is not enough money, some people look into addictive behaviours as a source of stress management, as well as a cheaper way to battle long-term trauma. For example, many addicts will use different substances such as cannabis or prescription pills to cope with financial problems or stress at work. This is because they believe that these substances offer them relief from feelings of anxiety and depression. However, this approach can be extremely dangerous, especially when it comes to opiates like morphine or codeine. These addictive substances can cause severe health complications.

The opioid crisis has been an ongoing problem for decades, but now that the coronavirus outbreak has made its presence known, the world’s attention has turned towards the issue. While most people have heard of opioids and know what they do, many still don’t understand why they’re so dangerous. 

The following quote from Paul Spanjar, a leading addiction expert and owner of the Providence Projects, explains the situation as seen by the addiction treatment providers throughout the UK: “Substance abuse rates rose sharply during the 2008 financial crisis, as economic uncertainty, job insecurity and general anxiety about the future took a hold. What we have currently is a situation off the back of COVID-19 lockdowns, which has already taken its toll on many individuals. I am deeply concerned with how this will play out over the coming months, and we may not fully understand the impact for many months to come.”

The Government’s £300 Million Urgency Plan for Addiction Help

Because of this, and much more, the British Government has just announced a new strategy which will see £300 million being spent on additional drug and alcohol addiction help, including drug testing during arrests, improvement of the anti-drug facilities which work with the NHS, as well as counteractions to criminal activities related to drug-making, substance dealing and overprescriptions. 

This all sounds great, but we need to remember that the main goal here should be to make sure that everyone gets the help they need, regardless of whether they are currently suffering from addiction. Prevention should be the number one cause we stand behind, and not patching up what has broken down.

Having more funding for addiction treatment will help Britons access addiction help quicker, but the post-pandemic situation is an unfortunate counter-action for this benefit. Due to COVID-19, and the follow-up lockdowns, quarantines, as well as health complications bringing long-lasting harm to our bodies and workplaces closing down, finding help for addiction seems like an unlikely task for many. However, getting back on the sober track will help your mind focus on beneficial and healthy tasks, pathways and solutions. Substance misuse and abuse, on the other hand, are just patching up the real problems you may be experiencing.