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How Are People Who Smoke, Drink Or Use Cannabis Coping In Lockdown?

The threat of COVID-19 and widespread use of mass quarantine or lockdown measures to reduce the numbers of people who will die is an unprecedented experience. Whilst many studies are underway to understand how to beat the virus, fewer studies are looking at how we are coping psychologically with the pandemic.

A New Zealand initiated survey is seeking to find out how people who smoke, drink alcohol, vape or use other psychoactive drugs are being affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Previous research on the effects of disasters, like the Christchurch earthquakes or the 9/11 New York terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, found that the prevalence of smoking and drinking alcohol went up. We can expect that the shock of this COVID-19 pandemic could have a similar effect, but we really don’t know.” Said lead investigator Dr Marewa Glover of the Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking.

The new study is answering a call from healthcare agencies for rapid information on how they at a local, country-level, regional and global level can mitigate the potential harms to the public’s mental health.

“Widespread fear of COVID-19 illness, the toll on society of a huge number of unexpected deaths over a short period of time in some countries, the loss of businesses and rising unemployment, and the necessary but emotionally harmful suppression of physical affection and comfort can be expected to leave a deep and lasting scar.” Said Dr Glover.

“We need to know how people are coping, or not, to ensure counselling and healthcare services can support community resilience and healing. People who smoke tobacco or cannabis, or who use alternative nicotine products, and people who drink alcohol or use other drugs are an important subgroup to learn from because health professionals’ attitudes towards them have been hardening and they, subsequently, have poorer access to compassionate care.”

The survey is open now to people aged 18 and over. It can be accessed via the coping-in-lockdown.com

website which also provides coping tips and tips for dealing with cravings for people who are cutting down or trying to quit.

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