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The Rise in Alcohol & Drug Relapses from Coronavirus

The Rise in Alcohol & Drug Relapses from Coronavirus

The Rise in Alcohol & Drug Relapses from Coronavirus

The coronavirus has come with a whirlwind of changes for society. Kids have been sent home from school, businesses closed their doors, and people were urged to stay home and keep their distance from others.

Although social isolation and restrictions meant to combat the spread of the virus were successful, these measures have come with some unforeseen side effects, including for those in the recovery community.

Increased Substance Abuse & Relapses from COVID-19

With people stuck inside and stressed, many are turning to drugs and alcohol for comfort. While some people are drinking less in quarantine, other people are drinking more. Millennials are leading the way in drinking with 25% saying they are drinking more versus 16% that claim to be drinking less.1 Although only a quarter of this group is having more alcohol than normal, this 25% is problematic and is likely made up of people with concerning drinking habits already, such as the tendency to drink alone or using alcohol to cope. If they haven’t already gone to a rehab facility for treatment before, they may need to after the pandemic is over. Other evidence suggests that alcohol consumption was significantly higher in states that were hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.2 As far as drugs are concerned, 36% of Americans admitted to taking more prescription opioids and using more marijuana during quarantine and social isolation.2

For those who already completed a drug or alcohol detox, coronavirus relapse is a very scary but also real possibility. With substance abuse rising in general, people who had previously used drugs and alcohol to cope with their trouble may be more tempted to use or drink once more. Exact numbers of the amount of people relapsing are unknown, but those in recovery are likely a large part of this rise in substance abuse.

Coronavirus Relapse Triggers

While everyone is different, relapse triggers tend to be similar. Addiction cravings can come on as a result of physical, social, and mental triggers. The increase of drug and alcohol relapses during the pandemic may be a result of several of these factors.

Contributing reasons to the number of relapses from coronavirus are believed to include:

  • Financial stress
  • Unemployment
  • Anxiety surrounding the pandemic
  • Grief from loss
  • PTSD from exposure to the coronavirus and its devastation
  • Loneliness from isolation
  • Boredom during quarantine
  • Decreased access to recovery resources and support

With all of these factors at play, there is no wonder there have been so many relapses from coronavirus. Unfortunately, although businesses are starting to reopen, the long-term mental health effects of the coronavirus are not going away anytime soon. Many suspect that these problems will only get worse in the coming months as people adjust and continue to cope with the aftermath of COVID-19. Because poor mental health is such a strong trigger for addiction relapses, relapses caused by COVID-19 indirectly could continue for the next several months.

Relapse is a part of the recovery process for some people, but if you relapse during quarantine or in the months following, get help immediately. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can get back on track and continue your sobriety journey.

At our Boca detox center, we help people safely wean their body off of drugs and alcohol so they can find lasting sobriety. Whether you have never gotten treatment before or your loved one relapsed and needs help, we are here.

Call us today at 888-280-4763 to see how our team at Banyan Boca may be able to assist you.


  1. Morning Consult - Cooped Up at Home, Millennials Most Likely Among All Adults to Turn to Food, Alcohol
  2. Miami Herald - More Americans turning to drugs and alcohol as coronavirus stress rises, survey shows

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
The Rise in Alcohol & Drug Relapses from Coronavirus
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