Officials and providers at York Hospital shared tips for folks dealing with stress and/or issues surrounding substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eric Haram, director of the York Hospital Recovery Center, said in a press release that increased alcohol sales in 2020 could be a "sign of the compounding impact of social distancing on stress and feelings of isolation, financial strain and family stressors brought on by the pandemic," according to a press release.

"Alcohol sales, nationally are up 262% in 2020, compared to the previous year," Haram said, referencing a January study titled "Coping During the Pandemic: Stress and Substance Use."

Haram continued that relative isolation and remote life may be catalysts for stress and its results.

Let's face it. We’ve all been through a lot this year, and nobody has been immune to socioeconomic fall-out from COVID-19. But some populations are at more risk of substance misuse than others: people with existing mental health or substance use conditions, older adults, people exposed to gender-based sexual violence, and children and adolescents experiencing disrupted schedules, activities and socialization. We need to look out for each other now more than ever and be familiar with warning signs of substance misuse and dependence.” Some warning signs include health complications resulting from substance use, inability to carry out daily responsibilities, physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms, and feelings of preoccupation and craving. - Eric Haram

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Dr. Christine Munroe, a primary care provider at York Hospital and medical director for medication-assisted treatment at the recovery center, encouraged folks struggling with stress, substance use or other related and pandemic-worsened issues to "come in and see us or call and talk to us," the release said.

Munroe echoed Haram's sentiment on an increased reliance on substances to alleviate stress and other negative feelings spurred by the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some people say they smoke a cigarette or have a glass of wine before bed to help them sleep. The truth is, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine can all interfere with getting a good night of sleep, and my number one recommendation for healthier ways to deal with stress is practicing good sleep hygiene. - Dr. Christine Munroe

Munroe said folks should practice mindfulness, such as maintaining a healthy diet to go along with daily exercise, connecting with nature, logging out of work to engage in other activities, among other things.

The York Hospital recovery center can be reached at 207-351-2118.

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