The world is enormous. It’s practically bursting with life, humans advancing civilisation in leaps. The world is vast, alright. But it’s this vastness that makes everything confusing. When you’re young, it’s easy to say what’s wrong from right. Our parents and teachers guide us to know that whatever the elders frown upon, we should never do it again. Be a good child, have good grades, and always eat your vegetables. However, this rule becomes non-existent as you grow older. You begin to think for yourself. Things can’t always be easily categorised as “good” or “bad.” This applies to drugs. When you hear “drugs,” you might immediately associate it with negative images. You visualise dark alleys and people who are going through withdrawal.
‘Statistics will be skewed for years to come, because the lockdowns affected rehab centres, and ERs alike. The statistics released for these years which were affected by the pandemic will not represent the actual effect of lockdowns on the state of addiction in the country’, say experts from Substance Rehabilitation – addiction service providers from England.
The Legality of Drugs
But there’s another side when it comes to drugs as well. Precisely, legal drugs. There are legal drugs that have greatly improved other people’s lives who have mental or physical disorders. These prescribed drugs have helped them function as active members of society. So, you see, you can’t always easily categorise things as “good” or “bad.”
The discussion of drugs is a multi-faceted topic. It needs to be talked about more without discrimination and hatred. The more we condemn drug abusers and users, the more hesitant they become when it comes to seeking help.
But how has the drug landscape changed, especially during the pandemic? It’s essential to know the recent changes to better address how to help drug users recover during these uncertain times. Facilities, whether sponsored by the state or not, should
The drug market—and drug consumption—have inconsistent findings concerning the pandemic.
The following information is from the society for the Study of Addiction’s website. No one had predicted the pandemic to be this dire. Thus, people who had addictive tendencies, such as alcoholics and smokers, cut off their sources. Alcoholics couldn’t purchase liquor from supermarkets or bars. The same thing goes with smokers.
The same cannot be said about drug users. Whether legal or illegal drugs, there is no actual data on whether or not the acquisition of drugs became more complex or more accessible during the pandemic. However, the prices of cocaine and heroin have significantly increased. This is based on anecdotal reports from the ongoing research by Dr Will Lawn and Martine Skumlien.
While the above study is ongoing, there are already studies with actual results. Scottish drug treatment and a facility called Crew did a survey of 300 participants. 58% of these respondents said they took more drugs during the pandemic. The most common reasons they upped their usage were boredom and coping with stress and isolation. Of these 300 respondents, only 19% said that their drug consumption became less frequent during the lockdown.
An extensive report on drug purchases during UK’s first lockdown.
A report ran from April to September 2020 and had 2,621 responses. This covers the first national lockdown: in anticipation of the easing and eventual lifting of the lockdown.
56% of the responses came from 18-24 years old people. 69% identified as male, and 32% reported to be full-time employees.
Cannabis was the most reported drug to be purchased. The possible popularity of cannabis is because of the lack of availability of other substances. MMDA/ecstasy was low at only 4%. It might be because this drug is the most common in social gatherings such as parties. Because of the pandemic, of course, no social gatherings were allowed.
Release’s report further revealed that 43% said their drug usage increased during the pandemic. The majority of these respondents purchased drugs offline, i.e., face-to-face, but there was an increase in interest in buying drugs off the darknet if their source was unavailable.
The conception of rehab for drug abuse is slowly changing its image
Based on these studies, no matter some inconsistencies, it can be seen that drug consumption was rampant during the pandemic. Many turned to drugs to cope with how the world was changing.
So, what do we do now with all these numbers and statistics?
During the pandemic, drug rehab in the UK slowly adapted. When you think of the word “drug rehab”, there’s already an image forming in your head. You think of sterile hallways and white walls and ceilings. You think of nurses and security roaming the halls.
This isn’t the case anymore because there’s a virtual rehab or telehealth. True to its name, drug users can seek help all from within the safety of their homes. Virtual rehab, telehealth, or telemedicine quickly gained traction, and this was not just in the drug rehabilitation sector.
Virtual rehab basically offers traditional face-to-face treatments online. Virtual rehab has everything from counselling to group therapy to one-on-one treatment plans. This was a welcoming alternative for people since this eliminates the time and transportation constraints otherwise present in physical drug rehab centres.
On top of that, it helps ease the mind of a drug user trying to recover. They’re not afraid of being seen by other people they might know. It also eliminates the feeling of being judged.
Many have opted to use telehealth because of how accessible, safe, and secure it is. Drug users are finally getting the help they need while still staying indoors. This has revolutionised how the health sector will mould future treatment plans.
Many are still sceptical about the effectiveness of telehealth. They claim that face-to-face treatment is still the way to go. Since restrictions have been lifted, recovering drug addicts can choose between onsite and virtual treatments. However, the effectiveness of virtual drug rehab services is the same as face-to-face treatments. The treatment plans and counselling sessions do not differ. Their only difference is how it is presented to the client. Nonetheless, choosing between physical and virtual help will significantly increase the number of people who will seek professional help.