The COVID-19 (coronavirus) illness has reached all ends of the globe, making it a pandemic by definition. Each day, the media reports more and more about the death toll, the high rate of infection, and the morbid details about the severe symptoms that those infected may have to endure. During times like these, universal panic, anxiety, stress, and fear can significantly increase among populations. Especially, with “shelter-in-place” orders and quarantines, people are essentially confined to there homes for extended periods of time with significantly reduced physical contact with others. As social organisms, these conditions are not ideal for human beings.
With an increase in anxiety, stress, and fear, it is not uncommon that individuals may to turn to substances as a coping mechanism–the use of alcohol and drugs steadily increases. When use increases, the incidence of accidents and overdoses have the potential to increase as well.
During this time of sheltering-in-place and social distancing, it is vital that we take the time to talk to our youth about healthy stress management, and become an example by refraining from allowing fear, stress, and anxiety to turn us to substance use, misuse, and/or abuse.
We want to encourage parents to discuss the dangers of underage drinking, alcohol abuse, and the use of drugs (or misuse in regard to medications) with their teens to deter them from thinking it is acceptable or beneficial for them to engage in such activities. We want to prevent a dangerous habit that could lead them down a path of addiction or even worse outcomes.
With the lack of outside activities there is a lack of distractions which allows for increased focused on the family-unit. Social distancing and shelter-in-place orders provide us with the perfect opportunity to help our youth practice and establish healthy, sustainable tools for coping with stress and anxiety.
GET CREATIVE! Think of fun activities/games that the family can do during this time. You can also set aside time for to have open and honest dialogues with one another about various topics among stress management. Engagement with family and open conversations have been shown to be major protective factors against youth consuming drugs and alcohol!
Let’s make the effort to put a positive spin on social distancing!