Opinion: Obesity and addiction: A multi-front war
The opioid, addiction and obesity epidemics haven't vanished during the coronavirus pandemic; indeed, for many the struggle has gotten worse as the focus on these diseases has receded.
When "shelter in place" orders went into effect, I worried about those struggling with addiction and weight loss especially as obesity was shown to be a notable risk factor for COVID-19.
The pandemic has been a terrible mix of isolation, economic uncertainty and financial insecurity, a powder keg for those who depend on the support and resources of their community. Nearly 21 million Americans have at least one addiction and our nations obesity rate has passed 40%.
Recent data from researchers at the University of Texas showed during the pandemic 83.6% of people had increased depression, 69.9% reported more difficulty in achieving weight loss goals and nearly 50% increased their stockpiling of food with 61.2% reporting stress eating.
This week the State of Georgia passed a bill that would allow grocery and liquor stores to deliver alcohol straight to your home. It's never been easier to drink alone and people appear to be drinking more during the COVID-19 quarantine than they did before the lockdown as they grapple with stress. Shelter in place has become synonymous with "excessively drinking in place" for some.
And for those in Florida working through sobriety programs, many clubhouses went dark during the lockdown transitioning to online meetings. One member shared anonymously that he estimated one third of his peer group relapsed and a few of his friends were back in the hospital. Some had died. "The daily Zoom meetings just weren't enough," he said. And going forward many support groups will need assistance to make up for lost dues. These groups will be needed more than ever