By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The coronavirus has not only taken a toll on the economy, it has also contributed to the increase of substance abuse throughout the Sunshine State.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says, “We have seen an overdose death increase over the last few months. This is having a very big reach on the people of Florida.”

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No surprise to medical professionals who deal with the issue every single day.

Dr. Spencer Eth, Interim Director of Substance Abuse Services at the University of Miami Hospital Department of Psychiatry, says, “This kind of stress and chronic stress and dread, the losses we are are all feeling can have a major effect on people who have had prior problems with substances.”

A mid-July poll conducted by the Kaiser Foundation found 53 percent of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, difficulty sleeping (36%) eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%).

“We find that there is an increased demand for substance abuse services now as a reflection of the difficult times so many people are having,” Eth said.

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Working from home, around kids all day, spouses not used to being around each other. It all adds up.

Dr. Eth says, “It is a stress every day. It is not part-time stress that has not gone away for months and months and it takes its toll.”

In a one thousand-person survey, Broward-based Victory Recovery Center found 57 percent saw an increase in their substance use. Forty-five percent use was related to stress 22 percent used drugs due to an increase in anxiety and depression and 43 percent of the substance use was due to boredom.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to reach out to all the people we care about to give support and give even more support to those that are struggling,” said Eth.

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