Katy-area experts attribute pandemic for rise in substance use as coping mechanism

Data Nielsen reports show retail alcohol sales rose 24% from the week ending March 7 to the week ending April 18.  (Courtesy Pexels)
Data Nielsen reports show retail alcohol sales rose 24% from the week ending March 7 to the week ending April 18. (Courtesy Pexels)

Data Nielsen reports show retail alcohol sales rose 24% from the week ending March 7 to the week ending April 18. (Courtesy Pexels)

More Americans have turned to substances such as drugs and alcohol to cope with the effects of the global pandemic.



Due to changes in schedules and routines, especially during a time of uncertainty, mental health issues can surface, said Colleen Paxton, the director of clinical services at West Oaks Hospital, which provides psychiatric care to individuals in the Houston area.



Additionally, when individuals are unable to go to work, earn an income or provide for their families, there can be stress at home, Paxton added.



Mental Health America, which uses a screening program to help identify the help-seeking population saw a jump in the number of individuals seeking help for at least three out of seven categories including the coronavirus, loneliness or social isolation, and financial problems.



MHA screened 8,052 Texans in May compared to 1,297 in January and found a 623% increase in total moderate anxiety results from April to May in Harris and Fort Bend counties.



Although hospital admissions have been down in some places such as West Oaks Hospital due to fear of contracting the virus, there are other issues forcing individuals through hospital doors, Paxton said.



“Along with these problems, there can be increased use of substance abuse as a way to cope, consequently bringing patients into the hospital due to relapse and needing to detox,” Paxton said.



Katy family doctor Chandra Chaudhuri agreed. Chaudhuri said many individuals who are turning to substances to cope were previously social drinkers who would have a glass of wine with dinner or occasionally with friends after a long day at work.



Data Nielsen reports show retail alcohol sales rose 24% from the week ending March 7 to the week ending April 18.



Sales in tequila, gin and premixed cocktails increased by 75% compared to the same time last year, and online alcohol sales increased 243%.



“I’ve seen an increased use in tobacco, alcohol and other substances as coping tools,” Chaudhuri said. “We’ve seen this before when Hurricane Harvey hit. It can be boredom, coping or knowing they don’t have to go into work the next day. There are some who have the propensity for alcoholism, so now instead of having two drinks, they are having three and four, and that is leading them to go further into their underlying disease.”



Mental health professionals urge anyone feeling overwhelmed to seek help through their primary health provider or a specialist.

By Nola Valente
A native Texan, Nola serves as reporter for the Katy edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She studied print journalism at the University of Houston and French at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in France. Nola was previously a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem, Israel covering Middle East news through an internship with an American news outlet.


MOST RECENT

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Here is the latest case, hospitalization and vaccine data from Fort Bend County. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nearly 30% of eligible Fort Bend County population fully vaccinated against COVID-19

From March 26-April 8, the county reported an average of 91.6 new coronavirus cases a day.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers coming to Katy; Gyro King opens in Sugar Land and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Less than 25% of American office workers have returned to in-person office settings since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
DATA: Texas metros lead the nation in return to in-person work since start of pandemic

About 37% of Houston office employees had returned to in-person work as of the end of March, as compared to an average of less than 25% in other major U.S. metros.

In order to move to Level 2 on the threat level system, Hidalgo said the county would need to get down to an average of 400 new COVID-19 cases reported daily, a positivity rate of 5% and an ICU population of 15%. (Screenshot via Facebook Live)
'We're close' Hidalgo says of possibility for Harris County to lower COVID-19 threat level

In order to move to Level 2 on the threat level system, Hidalgo said the county would need to get down to an average of 400 new COVID-19 cases reported daily, a positivity rate of 5% and an ICU population of 15%.

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Katy-area to be home of Houston area’s first Layne’s Chicken Fingers

The 2,400-square-foot restaurant will be located at 23703 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Katy.

Though several sections of Katy-area roads remain in the top 100, the ranking of five sections of road dropped between 2018 and 2019—and most have seen drops multiple years in a row, according to the report. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Several Katy-area roads among Texas’ most congested in annual report

One local road, I-10 from North Eldridge Parkway to the Sam Houston Tollway, is ranked the 14th most congested in the state.

(Courtesy Fish and Camaron)
Teriyaki Madness opens in Katy

The fast-casual Asian restaurant will serve bowls of Asian-inspired teriyaki food that includes fresh vegetables, rice and protein.

According to the release, three STAAR tests were affected by the connectivity issues including fourth grade writing, seventh grade writing and English I. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
TEA Student Assessment Division calls STAAR Online Testing Platform connectivity issues 'completely unacceptable'

According to the release, three STAAR tests were affected by the connectivity issues including fourth grade writing, seventh grade writing and English I.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order April 5 banning governments from issuing "vaccine passport" mandates that would require residents to show proof of vaccination in order to enter a public place or receive services. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
New order from Gov. Greg Abbott bans government-mandated 'vaccine passports' in Texas

"Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives," Abbott said.