Understanding COVID-19 Coping Mechanisms & Criminal Penalties
Since stay-at-home orders throughout the United States were imposed in March, alcohol sales have increased, according to Nielsen. Further data by IWSR demonstrates that US alcohol e-commerce sales will total nearly $5.6 billion this year, a roughly $3 billion increase from 2019. By 2024, ISWR predicts that 7% of alcohol sales will take place online, despite online alcohol sales comprising 1% of total off-premise volume in 2019.
Substance abuse is also on the rise since the pandemic started. The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program reported increases in overdose reports in 62% of participating counties, while total overdose report submissions increased by 18% upon the imposition of stay-at-home orders in March. An analysis of 500,000 urine samples conducted by Millennium Health also reports a significant increase in many types of drug use since mid-March, specifically:
- A 10% increase in cocaine use
- A 13% increase in heroin use
- A 20% increase in methamphetamine use
- A 32% increase in non-prescribed fentanyl
So, why is alcohol and drug use increasing so drastically?
The coronavirus pandemic altered the way we live, learn, work, socialize, and more. It’s fair to say that many people’s lives took a 180-degree turn in the blink of an eye. As such, our Denver criminal defense lawyers examine the specific factors below that officials from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism believe are contributing to the sharp increase in alcohol and substance use:
- Crises/disasters: After looking at previous disasters like Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, officials from the Institute suggest that the stress and anxiety associated with these devastating events can “increase drinking and exacerbate symptoms of alcohol use disorder.”
- Stress: Stress from the COVID-19 pandemic is attributed to various factors, such as the high unemployment rate, business closures, daily reports of high death counts, working from home, financial instability, social distancing, virtual learning, and more. Thus, people are turning to excessive alcohol consumption and substance use to ease their stress.
- Anxiety about the future: The pandemic is full of uncertainties. What many people thought would be a 3-month shutdown turned out to be 9 months and counting. In addition, countless Americans are unsure of where their next meal will come from or how they will afford their rent, as the federal stimulus payment barely covers families’ basic expenses.
- Social isolation: Social distancing and business closures may worsen anxiety and depression among those who already struggled from those issues pre-pandemic. For those that have not experienced anxiety and depression before the pandemic, there is a strong possibility that many are suffering from those disorders now. Without social interaction, feelings of loneliness, rejection, and loss of community may arise within a person. Not to mention, existing symptoms of anxiety and depression may exacerbate. As a result, people may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their pain.
- Boredom: Schools, businesses, and government operations have drastically shifted due to stay-at-home orders. With nothing to do, people are turning to alcohol and drugs to fill the time and give them something to do.
Criminal Consequences of Alcohol & Substance Use
Unfortunately, certain actions involving drug and alcohol use can have criminal implications. For instance, if you get behind the wheel while intoxicated, you could get a DUI charge. On the other hand, if you illegally possess, traffic, or distribute controlled substances or illegally obtain prescription drugs, you will likely face drug crime accusations. As such, you must be prepared to defend your rights and freedom upon getting criminal charges.
With this in mind, we urge you to retain our experienced Denver criminal defense attorneys at Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C. We have your best interests at heart and will go above and beyond to defend your charges, working tirelessly to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
Schedule your free consultation online or at (303) 732-5048 to learn more!