The UN reports a worldwide surge of domestic violence as a result of the pandemic (6). Isolation and being trapped inside magnify existing abusive behaviors. People “are told to stay at home with an abusive spouse or partner even though home isn’t always a safe place for them to be”.
Experts say that domestic abuse is unlikely to decline once stay-at-home measures are relaxed. “Already-bad situations are further aggravated by the stress of job loss and children home from school and underfoot,” advocates say.
“It is a unique situation,” said Deborah J. Vagins, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “This is on a level that has been unseen”.
Drug misuse trends increase during times of heightened stress, loneliness, and anxiety. Many people seek the sense of escape that some drugs provide. A new study estimates that 75,000 additional people in the US could die from drug misuse and suicide as a result of the pandemic (7).
An essential part of addiction recovery involves connection with others. Those recovering from addiction and their loved ones need a safe place to share challenges and solutions with people who understand. Though many group-support meetings have moved online, attendance has dropped. Many attendees cite fears of exposure because meetings can (and have been) recorded. One-to-one online meetings are recommended to help people avoid relapse (8).
Many people are reporting high levels of distress – experiencing uncertainty, fear, and isolation from their support networks – because of the pandemic. Distress can develop into trauma when people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with it. And traumatic incidents can lead to post traumatic stress disorder if unaddressed. The risk of people becoming overwhelmed greatly increases as the pandemic wears on (9).
“Our society is definitely in a collective state of trauma,” said US clinical psychologist (10). In the UK, the national healthcare system is bracing itself for the increased need of trauma treatment once lockdown ends. The need for pandemic-related trauma treatment is projected to last for years to come (1).