People Using Their Stimulus Checks to Fuel Substance Use
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on many aspects of life for people all over the world. Not only has it put our health at risk, but it also has deeper societal impacts. The way we work and interact has changed. As businesses scramble to stay afloat with a lack of customers, job loss and lower-income are making it harder for people to make ends meet.
In an attempt to alleviate the burden of the financial strain many Americans are under, lawmakers recently passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The measure means that taxpayers get $1,200 stimulus checks, also called Economic Impact Payments. People started receiving payments in early April 2020, but some still haven’t received any money.
While some have put the stimulus toward their bills and expenses as they ride out the recent economic upheaval, others have decided to give some or most of their stimulus away to those who need it more. However, millions of Americans have decided to put their stimulus payments toward less essential items, namely, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
Why Would People Spend the Money on Drugs?
According to a WalletHub survey, 24 million Americans will use their stimulus checks to buy alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. For some of those 24 million, the misuse of those federal dollars may just be a way to feed vices, but for many, it’s desperation. Severe substance use disorders are characterized by the compulsive use of a drug, despite consequences, like financial or health problems. Those compulsions can get out of control to the point that people need help and treatment to stop.
Addiction doesn’t stop when a virus causes the economy to take a downturn. In fact, the stress and isolation that have come with this virus might make substance abuse issues worse. People involved in treatment and recovery understand that connection is a vital part of addiction recovery. Isolation, on the other hand, may fuel addiction and other mental health issues.
The Financial Impact of Substance Use Disorders
Financial issues are an often overlooked aspect of substance use disorders. While addiction can hurt your relationships and health, it can also have a serious impact on your financial stability. Addictive compulsions often cause people to forsake other needs like personal hygiene, health, and sustenance to maintain their addiction and to stave off uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction taps into the reward center of the brain, which is designed to motivate essential things like eating and sleeping, but it rewires it to prioritize drug use. Before long, a substance use disorder can start to take over your life. It’s hard to maintain employment, and the income you do have will likely go to maintaining your addiction.
Addiction Treatment Is Still Available
Some drugs, like depressants, can be dangerous if you quit cold turkey. Alcohol use disorder often requires medical detox or doctor-directed tapering for a safe transition to sobriety. If someone with a chemical dependency on alcohol or drugs like benzodiazepines stops abruptly, it can cause seizures and other severe complications.
Fortunately, addiction treatment is healthcare, and that means it’s still available in the middle of this pandemic. For people with high-level medical needs, you may go through inpatient services. If you need outpatient services, many treatment centers are using telemedicine to help people through therapy in remote meetings.