Fatal drug overdoses have claimed the lives of more than half a million people in the last decade alone. Faced now with the coronavirus pandemic, the threat is only growing. The pandemic has led to increased experiences of isolation, economic pressure, and family conflict that, among other factors, exacerbate suicides and drug overdose rates. However, despite these problems, there is healing to be found, especially when we’re brave enough to ask for the help that we need.
The Other Crisis
United States suicide rates and drug overdoses have risen steadily since the 1990s. Just a few years ago, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death, and in 2018, suicide reached its highest peak since the 1940s. Whether purposeful or accidental, drug overdoses are a direct descendant of addictive behaviors that existed long before the pandemic.
In a year like 2020, where the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the problems that lead to suicide and drug overdoses, we must come to terms with the greater spiritual struggle that exists from our collective experience of stress, depression, and heartache, and the healing that we must seek to overcome these issues.
″ When it is darkest, we can see the stars. ″
— RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Suicide and COVID-19
Social distancing guidelines have made it difficult for many who already struggled with substances or their mental health to maintain a sense of normalcy. For many of us, the distractions that work and community involvement provided helped ease some of the negative and anxious thoughts buzzing around in our heads.
Now, asked to stay alone with our thoughts, our minds are laid bare, and having to confront those demons on our own became all too much. This has been a tough year for all of us, and we do not need an expert opinion to tell us that the pandemic has worsened a lot of the conditions that lead people to end their own lives.
Since the pandemic began, more people have reported having symptoms of anxiety and depression. More people have turned to drugs and alcohol to cope, and more people have thought about or considered suicide. Indeed, the actual number of suicides sky-rocketed this year.
Drug Overdoses and COVID-19
The number of drug overdoses has also been affected by social distancing guidelines. When you think about it from the perspective of addiction, isolation is the last thing a person in recovery needs — the disease of addiction is already isolating enough. For many who rely on support groups or other forms of socialization to help them recover, the pandemic presents a significant interruption to their progress. In the months since the pandemic began, both fatal and non-fatal overdoses have increased by 20% since 2019.
According to the American Medical Association, the opioid crisis has worsened because of the pandemic; over 40 states have reported higher deaths related to opioids. Moreover, the number of first-time substance users has also increased. More people are being driven to drug use due to stress, economic uncertainty, the fatigue of staying indoors, and relationship conflicts. And the unfortunate issue is that drug use causes many other physical, emotional, and mental issues that are difficult to get rid of.
Domestic Violence and COVID-19
As our mission is rooted in helping women, it’s important to acknowledge another stressor caused by the pandemic that affects women throughout the country. Although the pandemic’s initial part was a breath of fresh air for many couples, as time went on, spending all their time together led some couples to arguing, fighting, and violence. Unsurprisingly, domestic violence cases have increased this year. However, because incidents are often under-reported, the actual number is likely much higher.
By August of this year, domestic violence reports had increased by 76%. Six months later, we are probably still facing the same or a more significant challenge. Some experts say that orders to stay at home may have inadvertently locked the abused with their abuser, creating a nightmare scenario for some women in our country. Like other traumatic occurrences, domestic violence takes up residence in the heart of its survivors, causing feelings of helplessness and depression and often leads to addiction development.
Healing in the Face of COVID-19
The pandemic has caused a rupture in our lives, and there’s no doubt about that. For some of us, the struggle is more pronounced, and the stress and uncertainty drive some to deal with their pain through drugs or contemplating suicide. However, there is help out there if you seek it. At Villa Kali Ma, we emphasize healing the mind, body, and spirit to tackle the root problems of substance abuse and co-occurring mental health issues.
More than ever, we need to surround ourselves with like-minded wisdom seekers. We believe that healing within a community strengthens our resilience for changes that afflict our daily lives, especially during the pandemic. By becoming more aware of who you are, you will learn to see your life as the treasure it is, like a garden that grows beautifully under a pulsating sun. We can teach you to recognize the garden within and show you how to tend it.