The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Substance Use, Mental Health, and Service Utilization in the Early Steps Multisite Longitudinal Sample
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives and well-being of people across the world. In the United States, different states have adopted different measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, but the impact of a slowed economy, increased social isolation, and the loss of typically-available support services has disproportionally affected racial and ethnic minorities, as well as those in disadvantaged socioeconomic groups.
Tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, opioid, and illicit drug users are likely vulnerable to COVID-19 because of the effects of those substances on the respiratory and immune systems, and people who are in treatment or recovery from substance misuse may be at risk for relapse because of increased mental health issues and additional barriers to obtaining treatment and support. There are indications that substance use has increased because of the pandemic, but rigorous prospective studies have yet to be conducted.
The Early Steps Multisite Study of diverse lower income families, recruited from three geographic areas across the country (Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Oregon), presents unique research opportunities during this pandemic.