Over the last six months, much has been made of the effects that COVID-19 is having and will continue to have on drug and alcohol misuse and treatment. Various sources suggest that the pandemic will have a wide-ranging effect on the choice of substances people misuse, the number of people who misuse them, the frequency with which these substances are abused, and the number of people who will require treatment afterwards. Similarly, there are suggestions that substance misuse could increase the incidence of COVID-19, with users being more likely to engage in “risky” behaviours that put them in situations where they are more exposed to the virus, as well as compromising their immune systems, putting them at greater risk.
- Download our free report on the what impact COVID-19 has had on drug and alcohol use, testing and treatment?
But just how much of an impact is COVID-19 really having on drug and alcohol misuse, and vice versa?
In our latest report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug and Alcohol Use, we have delved into this relationship in greater detail. The report, which is free to download here, covers a number of key trends and both publicly available and our own data, covering the following key areas.
The impact of COVID-19 on drug and alcohol use
Our report begins with a collation of predictions, survey results and data analyses from the wider industry: industry claims and predictions that examine drug and alcohol purchase and usage during COVID-19. These include:
- Analysis of Public Health England data that reveals just how crucial it is for addiction treatment services to receive greater funding;
- Evidence that UK drinking behaviours have changed, with data showing worrying patterns and reasons behind changes in behaviour;
- Fears over changes in drug use patterns - including concerns about frequency of use, a shift to alternative substances, and the knock-on effect on treatment services.
COVID-19 and substance misuse: The Cansford view
Throughout COVID-19, Cansford Labs has continued to offer drug and alcohol testing, for both medico-legal and workplace clients. In the two sectors - despite industry predictions for widespread increases in use and changes in behaviour - we have seen very different trends throughout the pandemic.
In the medico-legal sector, our hair drug and alcohol testing data shows no difference in positivity rates across all drug groups between pre- and during COVID-19. We are also seeing consistency in terms of the drugs we detect most often in family law cases, with the two substances that were most common pre-pandemic remaining the most common throughout.
Workplace drug and alcohol testing, however, has been subject to more disruption during COVID-19. Swathes of businesses across a huge number of industries have been working from home since March - and while some are beginning to return to the workplace, the advent of the claimed second wave has meant that many will be continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future.
"Testing in sectors such as these has continued, and we have seen some interesting results. "
For businesses whose workplace testing policies include random testing, such testing will have come to a halt while employees are away from the workplace. However, many industries - logistics, construction, security, medicine and retail, among others - have had to continue “business as usual”. This has meant that testing in sectors such as these has continued, and we have seen some interesting results.
Our report reveals a spike in positive results in the workplace sector in Q2 2020 - and an explanation of why hair testing may reveal more than the urine tests used by many workplaces when it comes to employee drug and alcohol usage during lockdown.
Implications for the future
The final section of our report sums up our key findings, and proposes what drug and alcohol testing and treatment services should do going forward to mitigate against the additional risks that COVID-19 can cause - and vice versa. It also highlights that there may still be more to come in this sector as the pandemic rages on - which is why it is so vital that family lawyers, workplaces, drug and alcohol testing laboratories and treatment and rehabilitation services work hard to ensure that we do as much as possible, as early as possible, to ensure that individuals get the support they need before their behaviours become even harder to reverse.
Want to learn more about the links between COVID-19 and drug and alcohol misuse? Click here to download the report in full.
Subscribe to Email Updates
Posts by Topic
- Hair drug testing
- Workplace Drug Testing
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Family Court
- Drug testing
- Cansford Laboratories
- Drug test results
- hair strand drug testing
- Hair Collection
- Alcohol testing
- In the press...
- Laboratory accreditation
- Chain of Custody
- Did you know?
- Drug and DNA testing
- Frequently Asked Questions
- New psychoactive substances
- Steroid Testing
- Drug test costs
- drug testing in sport
- ethics of hair testing
- Expert witness
- Oral fluid testing
- Scientific Presentations
- social workers
- vulnerable children