Lockdown has been, and still is, a complex social phenomenon that no one is quite sure what the long-term consequences are going to be. We know that there has been an intense interplay between heightened financial difficulties, social isolation, loss of loved ones, uncertainty about the future and general levels of increased stress, anxiety, and depression. All of which creates a perfect storm for self-medicating via drugs and alcohol.
The Royal Society of Psychiatry have already estimated that the number of people drinking at risky levels in the UK has doubled to 8.5 million since COVID-hit as people struggle with self-isolation, stress, anxiety, and depression. And the increase in drug use is no different.
This is certainly a picture that Help Me Stop can relate to as calls to our enquiry line and website Live Chat have increased by over 500% since the start of COVID. Time and time again we are taking calls from people that have reached a point of desperation in terms of their mental wellbeing and who have turned to alcohol and drugs as a form of self-medicating. Many of these people already had an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol but was “sort of manageable” in and through the workplace, what has been described as functional alcoholics or functional drug users. However, for many of these people work was now home, which proved to be a whole new ball game. For others furlough hit and then redundancy creating a very bleak and uncertain future. And now they are at home with a problematic alcohol and drug problem with the impending prospect of returning back to the work place or finding a job.
Problems with drugs and alcohol is not discriminatory and problematic use has no respect for age, gender, social standing, employment status, wealth, or race. It has also been a challenging time for people already in recovery, especially those in early recovery, and as such many have found that they have relapsed as they just did not have enough recovery capital to cope or what support systems they did have were suddenly unavailable. Many are caught in their own shame at this (not as though there is any shame) and even though they know reaching out is the solution they feel stuck.
If you are concerned about your relationship with alcohol or drugs, or someone else’s, and want to know what the options are for stopping and staying stopped then call us now on 0208 191 8920 or jump onto Live Chat between 9am and 5pm Monday-Fridays at https://helpmestop.org.uk/
When we entered the various lockdowns, no one knew what to expect, it was a new experience, and this in itself created its own stresses and strains. However, coming out of lockdown is different, we remember what the working world was like but have now adapted to the lockdown world. Many have been working from home for a very long-time now, old habits and behaviours have been forgotten and new ones gained.
While some may be excited at the prospect of coming out of lockdown, others may be filled with anxiety at the prospect of returning to the “new normal”. For the past year going to our workplaces, seeing family and friends and being around large groups of people has been off limits. With restrictions removed all of this can suddenly seem very daunting.
At times like this turning to drink and drugs to manage our difficult thoughts and feelings is very easy and something to be aware off. Similarly, for those individuals who have already found that they have increased their use of drugs or alcohol to cope over this difficult period; the thought of returning to work etc. can be very concerning, particularly when they find out that stopping and staying stop is not as easy as they thought and not just an issue of relying on willpower.
Stopping and staying stopped is a about a psychological shift and lifestyle change which best comes about through psychological therapies and peer support. Peer support like SMART or AA, CA, MA and NA is great and is highly recommended, but they are not a replacement for psychotherapy or are psychotherapy. Neither are they run by trained addiction psychotherapists and neither Smart or the fellowship meetings will get to the fundamental bottom of your use from a psychological perspective. Getting to the psychological reasons why you drink and use drugs and doing something about this is fundamental to long term behaviour change and staying stopped.
There is no magic pill or magic wand to stopping and staying stopped. There is no quick fix, it takes the right levels and types of support, time, motivation, and hard work.
Giving up drinking and drug use after a prolonged period can be extremely difficult because the body is so used to functioning with the substance. Dealing with the come down is one thing but learning to stop and stay stopped is another.
If you are concerned about your relationship with alcohol or drugs, or someone else’s, and want to know what the options are for stopping and staying stopped then call us now on 0208 191 8920 or jump onto Live Chat/email us directly at https://helpmestop.org.uk/contact-us
Help Me Stop’s intensive non-residential outpatient Dayhab drug and alcohol treatment programme is an effective psychological solution that also offers 3 months of free accessible aftercare and family support options. Treatment is delivered face to face at our West London centre either in the mornings or afternoons over 6 weeks.
For those adults who can’t get to our centre in West London we offer a lower cost 6-week evening or morning online drug and alcohol treatment programme, run by the same therapists that provide the face-to-face programme.
All details can be seen here https://helpmestop.org.uk/
Chris Cordell is Help Me Stop's General Manager and is a senior associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, Certified International Recovery Specialist, member of the International Society of Addiction Medicine and a member of the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals.
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