THE DANGEROUS DUO OF COVID-19 AND ADDICTION

"All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for." - Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)

The era of covid-19 has threatened not just our physical health but mental health too. Studies have shown an increase in both new and relapse cases of addiction. What has caused this surge? To answer this question let me ask you another. What is one of the prominent reasons for substance use? Stressors! Substances such as alcohol and others result in the temporary experience of pleasure as they activate the reward system. When indulged on a regular basis the body becomes adapted and the withdrawal can lead to an outburst of stress reaction and the neuroendocrine responses. This can lead to increased desire for consumption of the substance.


Let’s try to understand how the body gets adapted to these substances and what happens when the body is withdrawn. We wear clothes 24/7. Don’t we? But is our body constantly aware of it? Are you consciously aware of the touch of your clothes? Even though everyone around you can see it, the person sitting close to you might even be able to feel it, but for your body it is not a new sensation. Now, even though there isn’t a constant realization of this sensation, how would your body react to being naked? That is exactly how a body gets adapted to substances. And the withdrawal from these substances can make the person feel either naked on a cold winter night or wearing the warmest clothes possible on a hot summer day.


The outbreak of covid-19 has only added to the existing pressure and stressors whether it be physical health, occupational, relationships, isolation, uncertainty or overall well-being.


The Surge of Behavioural Addiction in Covid-19 -

The increase in addiction rates are not just limited to substance use. The time spent at home has increased considerably, with limitations to social and recreational activity we have turned towards our screens for comfort. Watching movies/shows, pornography, the endless scroll on social media, video gaming, food addiction, online shopping and other such reinforcing behaviors has become a form of escapism. This temporary relief and escape from stress is leading to a surge in behavioral addictions.


Addiction no matter what kind can disrupt one's social, occupational, and normal functioning. It can affect the stress levels, irritability, fluctuations in mood and many other aspects of psychological well-being.


Learning better ways of coping with stress, becoming self-aware, educating and acknowledging the facts, practicing wellness activities and taking important measures can all play a key role in combating the dangerous duo of covid-19 and addiction.


Seeking professional assistance at the right time can be extremely helpful in managing the symptoms. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or withdrawal symptoms, reach out to experts at ManoShala.


By

Muskan Gupta, Psychologist, ManoShala


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