Voice of America: Is risky pandemic behavior leading to more deaths?

UC expert says some have turned to substance use to deal with pandemic stress

As statistics show increases in fatal traffic accidents and overdoses during the pandemic, experts say the prolonged stress may be causing people to engage in more risky behaviors.

The National Safety Council reports more than 38,000 people died in traffic accidents on American roads during the first year of the pandemic, the highest number since 2007. More than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, a record high.

Maria Espinola, PsyD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, told Voice of America that substance abuse has increased during the pandemic.

“A lot of people use alcohol and drugs to cope with the stress that we're experiencing. So, some people were already having issues prior to the pandemic that got worse," she said. "And then some people who had no issues before experienced such high levels of stress that they used substances to cope.”

Read the Voice of America article.

Lead photo of Maria Espinola/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

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