Norway: Wave of Substance Use Disorder Predicted after COVID-19
Blå Kors Kompasset (the Blue Cross Compass) is forecasting that Norway could be hit with a wave of substance use disorder after COVID-19.
Blue Cross Norway is a major Norwegian volunteer organization working in the field of alcohol and other drug abuse. The Blue Cross Compass focuses on substance use prevention, specifically among children and youth growing up in families with alcohol and other substance use problems.
The organization notes that retail alcohol sales have been reported to be rising during the COVID-19 lockdown in Norway. This means parents are consuming alcohol at home more and around children. This might set negative examples for youth at an age looking for role models to learn from and adapt. And this trend might also be leading to more alcohol problems among parents, negatively affecting their children.
Experience shows that children often put their own problems and needs in the back bench when a parent has an alcohol problem because they are watching out for the changes in their parent and end up down-prioritizing their own feelings and emotions.
The time that it takes for young people to seek help for family alcohol problems and the likely increased intake of alcohol during the COVID-19 lockdown could result in an increase in requests for support for substance use disorders in a year’s time according to Håkon Hauge Johnsen, psychologist and leader of the Blue Cross Compass.
Digital therapy can help
Many young people who need support go under the radar and are not identified through the traditional methods of support services. Digital therapy can help solve this problem. Since most young people are comfortable using digital media, online therapy and support services are likely to be more sought out than traditional face-to-face services. Additionally digital therapy can reach people who are otherwise unreachable.
During the COVID-19 pandemic digital therapy became a necessity. From March 12, 2020 till early May when the Blue Cross re-opened its services, therapy was shifted completely to digital platforms. Research has found that digital therapy is as effective as face-to-face therapy for some mental health problems. For those who suffer conditions such as social anxiety this is specially helpful. Mr Johnsen believes that both methods should be offered to those who seek support for mental health conditions including substance use disorders.