When The Party Stops: How Narconomics During a Pandemic Could Lead To More Mental Health Admissions.
World - The world of illicit drugs has begun to see the economic effect of of Covid 19 as the availability and pricing of street drugs reacts to changes in way drug users are living during lock-down.
As nightclubs and pubs have closed, the drug dealing community has turned to more traditional marketing methods to market their produce according to The Economist. This includes 3 for 2 deals or dealers offering "Party Packs" to off load dead stock. Other dealers have turned to minimum order shipments to increase turnover during this down time due to the risk of being caught in possession with car stopping by Police forces increasing.
But what effect does this have on the people who use? The degree of functioning in these groups can often differ. In Mental Health services, there are a large number of people who have co-morbid substances use as a way of managing the symptoms of their mental health.
Turning Point in the UK noted that 70% of people in drug services and 86% of people in alcohol services has experienced mental health problems. The effect of national lock-down means that ease of access to drugs and alcohol is reduced. Pubs and restaurants no longer off the ease and social means of obtaining alcohol. For those with limited mobility, ease of travel and limited financial means, the risk of unwanted alcohol or drug withdrawal is high.
Equally - there is the risk that people drink and use drugs more as a mechanism by which to cope with their emotions and the difficulties of the changes caused by social lock-down. Alcohol sales in the US rose by 55% in the third week of March 2020.
In 2008, an analysis by the US Center For Disease Control and Prevention noted that hospitalisation rates for alcohol use disorders rose 35% in response to Hurricane Katrina.
Support groups related to Alcohol and Drug have moved online to support users during these difficult times.
It is clear that the issues substances users face may lead to increased contact with mental health services. This can include increased likelihood of drug induced psychosis or the risk of harm as a result of alcohol or drug withdrawal. One Mental Health service in the UK reported a 17% increase in referrals for people with co-morbid substance use from mid-February as the Covid-19 pandemic became clearer.
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