A Looming Mental Health Crisis in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic:
The Louisiana Addiction Research Center (LARC) is Here to Help.
We are facing an unprecedented alcohol and drug abuse crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health problems are quickly becoming part of the COVID-19 pandemic landscape. Many who have never experienced symptoms of mental health are now suffering due to COVID-19. And, substance use disorder stemming from untreated mental health problems is compounded by isolation from physical distancing. Now, many who suffer do not know where to turn. LARC is here to help.
Tips for Coping with the Stress of COVID-19:
Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in children and adults. Coping with stress will help both you and those you love.
Symptoms of stress may include:
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
- Fear and worry about your own health or those you love
- Changes to your eating habits
- Problems sleeping
- Upset stomach, diarrhea or nausea
- Chest pain or rapid heartbeat from anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness
- Worsening of chronic health problems
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Children and teens
- People who have mental health conditions
- People who have problems with substance use
- People with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress.
- Take a break from screens, TV, news, social media, cell phones
- Take care of your body
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Get plenty of sleep
- Take a walk, exercise regularly
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and tobacco
- Make time to unwind
- Take time to do things you enjoy
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Stay in touch with family and friends. Maintain healthy relationships and build a strong support system.
When to seek help.
If you experience these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out your normal daily routine, seek professional help:
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
- Thoughts of harming yourself or others
- Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear
- Changes in appetite, energy, or activity level
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anger or short-temper
- Insomnia, difficulty sleeping or having nightmares
- Physical reaction such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
Resources for dealing with addiction and stress of COVID-19
Isolation and economic upheaval caused by COVID-19 are resulting in a sharp spike in mental health and addiction related crises. There are many sources to help you seek help during this time:
Tele-addiction or Tele-psychiatry appointments:
Attend a virtual meeting:
Al-Anon Electronic Meetings & Families Anonymous Virtual Meetings
LDH Behavioral Health Information LInk
Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Outpatient Clinic
LSU Health Shreveport, Appointments: (318) 626-2445
Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of Northwest Louisiana (CADA) at (318) 222-8511
Celebrate Recovery at (318) 746-7940
When in doubt, call 911! - Tell them there is a “mental health emergency” and officers will be sent to assist you and your loved one. Ask for a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer.
- Call 211 for non-emergencies
- Louisiana Substance Abuse Helpline: 1-877-664-2248
- Keep Calm Through COVID Hotline, Crisis Counselor: