There’s a reason for how widespread disasters and states of emergency fuel substance use. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been on a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from adrenaline to fear, grief, and anger. As the initial shock of the pandemic wears off, you may even begin to develop a sense of apathy as the days drag on. We desire a way to relieve these overwhelming emotions, and for many, marijuana provides that escape.
But as we’ve seen, to get the same level of relief over time, a person must consume more drugs, leading to both physical and mental dependence. So, long after the emergency has passed, the need to self-medicate can remain, and may even increase over time.
Numbers back increasing marijuana use during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s easy to see how the buildup of stress leads to a desire to self-medicate. One study of 1,054 adolescents in Canada found that the percentage of users for most substances decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic—notably, however, the percentage of marijuana and alcohol users increased significantly (Dumas, Journal of Adolescent Health, 2020).
Again, this is likely reflective of more opportunities to use marijuana in the post-pandemic world, not to mention the added emotional burdens we continue to grapple with as pandemic wears on.