Covid 19 And Illicit Drugs in The US

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The spread of COVID-19 has pushed Illicit drugs use to an all-time high.

On top of that though, it has provided a shortage to the number of drugs that are able to get into the country.

This is because the contagious virus interrupted the supply chain of illegal drugs throughout the country and internationally.

Covid-19 and Illicit Drugs

Covid-19 started in China. Although this was the source of the virus, there are many illicit drugs that are destined to go to the United States. In order to contain Covid-19, China isolated itself from the rest of the world. This completely stopped the production of drugs, and also the manufacturing of chemicals throughout China.

This interruption has sent waves through different parts of the illegal drug distribution. This includes drug cartels in Latin America, as well as ferry drugs from Chinese suppliers. Anti-viral measures were also taken by national governments, which has strengthened border crossing standards. This means that people who were once able to bring drugs to the US now cannot do so.

The Dark Web

Although the dark web is able to avoid physical interaction and viral infection risks, drug sales on the dark web have gone down immensely. This is because it is difficult for these illicit drugs to be sent and received across international lines due to an interruption in their supply.

Bitcoin is the main method of paying for illicit drugs online through the dark web. There is software that allows you to track bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This is how we are aware of the reduction in the activity of illicit drugs.

Why The Use of Illicit Drugs Continues to Rise

It can be difficult for those who are struggling with substance use disorders to stay clean during the quarantine. Even though the profits are suffering for those who are importing illegal drugs, addiction does not stop. This means that you are more likely going to suffer from an addiction or relapse than before covid-19.

Who is at Risk For Covid?

Because Covid-19 primarily affects the lungs, it means that anyone who has lungs that are weakened from smoking cigarettes, crack cocaine, methamphetamines, or other illicit drugs is considered to be a vulnerable population during this pandemic. Even if you want to quit, if you do not, then you may be in a situation that will endanger you in terms of contracting covid-19.

Additionally, those who are addicted might worry about getting their drug of choice. This leads to the possibility of stockpiling drugs to prepare for isolation. When you have more drugs on hand, this can lead to taking more than you normally would. This greatly increases your risk of overdose. COVID-19 and illicit drugs could potentially cost people their lives.

Mental Illness and Illicit Drugs

Dual diagnosis is the term that describes any combination of mental illness at the same time as an addiction. This might be that you suffer from an anxiety disorder or depression, along with an addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or sex.

Treating a dual diagnosis can be difficult. This means that if you go to a treatment program, you will need to make sure that the staff is willing to treat both of your diagnoses. This means that if you suffer from depression, you will need to see if this is due to your drug addiction, or because of simply your mental illness. Similar to other mental illnesses, depression can be a symptom of many things. This is why you must find the root of the problem and treat both of your co-occurring disorders.

Most Popular Illicit Drugs Abused in 2018

With users aged 12 and older, the most popular illicit drugs included:

  • Illicit drugs combined (53.2 million)
  • Marijuana (43.5 million)
  • Misuse of prescription pain relievers (9.9 million)
  • Misuse of prescription tranquilizers and sedatives (6.4 million)
  • Hallucinogens, including ecstasy (5.6 million)
  • Cocaine (5.5 million)
  • Misuse of prescription stimulants (5.1 million)
  • Inhalants (2 million)
  • Methamphetamine (1.9 million)
  • Heroin (808,000)

Decrease in Illicit Drugs Use

Overall, the use of illicit drugs in the U.S. increased over the last few years, but not all drugs increased.

  • Cocaine: The use of cocaine decreased from the early 2000s almost 50% to 2015. It is possible that this usage increased during covid.
  • Marijuana: The overall increase from 14.5 million users in 2007 to 19.8 million in 2013, increased even more due to the recreational legalization in many states. Despite this, illegal use is down due to it being legalized.
  • Meth: Methamphetamine use has seen a slight increase in use in the last few years. In 2007 that number had dropped to 353,000, but by 2013, the number of meth users was at 595,000.

Treatment and Illicit Drugs

Inpatient Drug Rehab

Inpatient treatment is also referred to as residential treatment. This is because you live at the treatment facility while going through treatment. It is the highest level of rehab services for someone who is diagnosed with a substance use disorder.

The first stage of inpatient rehab for severe addictions is always detox. This is a period of 5-14 days in which you will rid your body of the substance that you have been using. This is a painful period, and withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous.

Your inpatient treatment program will span from 28 to 60 days depending on the severity of your addiction. During this time you will meet with doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, addiction specialists, and more. Inpatient programs can be gender-specific or have a general theme to make you feel more comfortable.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Although any severe addiction should be treated with an inpatient residential program, outpatient rehab can be helpful for mild substance abuse problems. Especially if you catch your addiction in the early phases, this will allow you to be successful in an outpatient rehab program.

Outpatient rehab programs offer drug and alcohol treatment sessions. Rather than living in the facility, you will be scheduled to come in a few times per week. This allows you to continue with your regular life and still maintain responsibilities at home. You will still be required to check into treatment, but you can maintain your normal schedule with work or school as well.

Outpatient programs come in many different formats, levels of intensity, and with a variety of services. Despite this, the overall offerings of an outpatient program is counseling, support, and education.


Although outpatient programs are often considered a part of aftercare, there are more programs that can be considered the aftercare that comes after your outpatient program as well. Even though achieving sobriety is a huge accomplishment, your treatment does not stop. Aftercare allows you to keep getting support after you have completed your therapy. Known more popularly as 12-step groups, these groups are support systems for the good times, the bad times, and all times in between.

Struggling with an Addiction to Illicit Drugs During Covid-19?

At Resurgence Behavioral Health we offer free insurance verification for treatment and a variety of services to help you.

Contact us today to learn more about our trained medical staff, and to achieve support through these hard times.