Stress and feeling more isolated can lead to more drinking, opioid use, and other substance use, so naturally we’re concerned that people are using more substances these days.
It’s a stressful time, and for parents caring for children at home, opportunities to relax, unwind, and have fun have dwindled during COVID. Unsurprisingly, researchers and journalists have confirmed that adult use of alcohol, cannabis, and other substances has increased significantly in the US in recent months, especially among women and people living with school-aged children.
– Recent research about parents and caregivers drinking more during the pandemic.
– New York Times article: Mother’s Little Helper Is Back, and Daddy’s Partaking Too.
Since parents and kids are home together, it seems likely that kids and teens are seeing more alcohol consumption, which can be a risk factor for increased use in young people. We also wonder about teen substance use and are concerned about the recent increases in adult opioid-related overdoses.
How can I be a healthy role model when I’m so stressed out?
This is a question we have all asked ourselves at times while raising kids! We have written before about how important it is for people of all ages to have a variety of ways to cope with stress and increase happiness. The goal is not to be stress-free (that’s impossible!), but to model healthy coping strategies as often as possible. Whether your child is 5 or 15, they notice what you do! What they see at home and what you say to them make a difference.
Honest conversations and healthy role modeling can make a big difference – for all important topics.
Try not to talk about alcohol or marijuana as a stress reliever. Instead of saying, “I had a hard day – I need a glass of wine.” Try saying ”I had a stressful day – I need to take care of myself by…” Think about self-care that feels attainable right now. Talk with your kids about healthy ways that they can take care of themselves too and support their healthy coping strategies.
Like us, you may have already seen multiple lists of self-care strategies that feel impossible right now. We like things that feel possible! Read our posts about healthy coping strategies (mentioned above) and what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Looking for inspiration?
We loved this recent 30 minute radio story featuring working parents from around the United States talking honestly about the challenges of pandemic parenting and the coping strategies they’ve been using: The Parents Are Not Alright from Latino USA.
Concerned about how much you’re drinking these days?
This Dear Pandemic post has info and ideas.