The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented levels of unemployment, the need to quickly adapt to new living and working conditions, and uncertainties about our own health and future, leading individuals to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions as well as heightened fear, stress, and uncertainty. These psychological conditions are linked to the use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, as a means of coping. Drugs - whether prescribed or illegal - affect neurotransmitters in the brain and alleviate negative mental health states, which may heighten the reliance on substances particularly during a crisis.  

Perry N. Halkitis, DrPH, MS, MPH, dean and public health psychologist at the Rutgers School of Public Health, who has had his research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is available to speak about increased rates of drug use and abuse that will likely emerge as a result of the social, psychological, and financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many people – especially during crises- turn to various substances to ameliorate the stresses and emotions they are experiencing. While those who are part of 12 Step Programs or other mental health and addiction treatment have access to virtual services, we are not aware of just how effective the delivery of services in this modality truly are for those at risk for drug addiction.”



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